Reading: Planetary Temperatures

A reading that discusses the blackbody emission properties of the Sun and planets, describes the calculation of planetary temperatures by using the Stefan-Boltzmann Law, and explains the effect of atmospheres on planetary temperatures

Students will learn to apply the Stefan-Boltzmann equation to determine the total energy flux emitted by the Sun’s surface and will discuss the difference between observed and predicted planetary temperatures.

Use this tool to help students find answers to:

  1. What parameters determine the amount of energy received by a planet from the sun?
  2. What is the effect of atmospheres on the temperatures of various planets in our solar system?


About the Tool

Tool Name Energy Balance and Planetary Temperature
Discipline Physics, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline
  • Planck’s Law, Stefan-Boltzmann Law
  • Relationship between Temperature and Peak Wavelength of the Electromagnetic Spectrum
  • Planetary Temperatures as a function of solar energy received
Climate Topic
  • Planetary Climates, Planetary Energy Balance
  • Climate and the Atmosphere
Type of Tool Reading
Grade Level High school, Undergraduate
Location Global
Language English
Developed by American Chemical Society (ACS)
Hosted at American Chemical Society (ACS)
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic


Black Body Emission Curves

(Image Credit : Jerry Bell)







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