In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol comprising a visible mass of liquid droplets or frozen crystals made of water or various chemicals. The droplets or particles are suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of a planetary body. Terrestrial cloud formation is the result of air in any of the lower three principal layers of Earth's atmosphere (collectively known as the homosphere) becoming saturated due to either or both of two processes: cooling of the air and adding water vapor.
Clouds in the troposphere, the atmospheric layer closest to Earth's surface, have Latin names due to the universal adaptation of Luke Howard's nomenclature. It was formally proposed in December 1802 and published for the first time the following year. It became the basis of a modern international system that classifies these tropospheric aerosols into several physical forms which can be found at various altitude levels or étages.
A sea is a large body of salt water that is surrounded in whole or in part by land. More broadly, the sea (with the definite article) is the interconnected system of Earth's salty, oceanic waters—considered as one global ocean or as several principal oceanic divisions. The sea moderates Earth's climate and has important roles in the water cycle, carbon cycle, and nitrogen cycle. Although the sea has been travelled and explored since prehistory, the modern scientific study of the sea—oceanography—dates broadly to the British Challenger expedition of the 1870s. The sea is conventionally divided into up to five large oceanic sections—including the IHO's four named oceans (the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic) and the Southern Ocean; smaller, second-order sections, such as the Mediterranean, are known as seas.
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System and is by far the most important source of energy for life on Earth. It is a nearly perfect spherical ball of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process. Its diameter is about 109 times that of Earth, and it has a mass about 330,000 times that of Earth, accounting for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. About three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen; the rest is mostly helium, with much smaller quantities of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon and iron.
The Sun is a G-type main-sequence star (G2V) based on spectral class and it is informally referred to as a yellow dwarf. It formed approximately 4.567 billion years ago from the gravitational collapse of matter within a region of a large molecular cloud. Most of this matter gathered in the center, whereas the rest flattened into an orbiting disk that became the Solar System. The central mass became increasingly hot and dense, eventually initiating nuclear fusion in its core. It is thought that almost all stars form by this process.
The Sun is roughly middle aged and has not changed dramatically for four billion[b] years, and will remain fairly stable for another four billion years. However, after hydrogen fusion in its core has stopped, the Sun will undergo severe changes and become a red giant. It is calculated that the Sun will become sufficiently large to engulf the current orbits of Mercury, Venus, and possibly Earth.
The enormous effect of the Sun on the Earth has been recognized since prehistoric times, and the Sun has been regarded by some cultures as a deity. Earth's movement around the Sun is the basis of the solar calendar, which is the predominant calendar in use today.
The Moon is Earth's only natural satellite. It is one of the largest natural satellites in the Solar System, and, among planetary satellites, the largest relative to the size of the planet it orbits (its primary). It is the second-densest satellite among those whose densities are known (after Jupiter's satellite Io).
The Moon is thought to have formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago, not long after Earth. There are several hypotheses for its origin; the most widely accepted explanation is that the Moon formed from the debris left over after a giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized body called Theia.
The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth, always showing the same face with its near side marked by dark volcanic maria that fill between the bright ancient crustal highlands and the prominent impact craters. It is the second-brightest regularly visible celestial object in Earth's sky (after the Sun), as measured by illuminance on Earth's surface. Although it can appear a very bright white, its surface is actually dark, with a reflectance just slightly higher than that of worn asphalt. Its prominence in the sky and its regular cycle of phases have, since ancient times, made the Moon an important cultural influence on language, calendars, art, and mythology.