- February 18 -

Pluto Discovered

Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System (after Eris) and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun. Originally classified as the ninth planet from the Sun, Pluto was recategorized as a dwarf planet and plutoid...

Pluto Discovered

Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System (after Eris) and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun. Originally classified as the ninth planet from the Sun, Pluto was recategorized as a dwarf planet and plutoid owing to the discovery that it is only one of several large bodies within the Kuiper belt.
Like other members of the Kuiper belt, Pluto is composed primarily of rock and ice and is relatively small, approximately one-sixth the mass of the Earth's Moon and one-third its volume. It has an eccentric and highly inclined orbit that takes it from 30 to 49 AU (4.4–7.4 billion km) from the Sun. This causes Pluto to periodically come closer to the Sun than Neptune. As of 2011, it is 32.1 AU from the Sun.
From its discovery in 1930 until 2006, Pluto was classified as a planet. In the late 1970s, following the discovery of minor planet 2060 Chiron in the outer Solar System and the recognition of Pluto's relatively low mass, its status as a major planet began to be questioned. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, many objects similar to Pluto were discovered in the outer Solar System, notably the scattered disc object Eris in 2005, which is 27% more massive than Pluto. On August 24, 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) defined what it means to be a 'planet' within the Solar System. This definition excluded Pluto as a planet and added it as a member of the new category 'dwarf planet' along with Eris and Ceres. After the reclassification, Pluto was added to the list of minor planets and given the number 134340. A number of scientists hold that Pluto should continue to be classified as a planet, and that other dwarf planets should be added to the roster of planets along with Pluto.
Pluto has five known moons, the largest being Charon, discovered in 1978, along with Nix and Hydra, discovered in 2005, and the provisionally named S/2011 (134340) 1, discovered in 2011, and S/2012 (134340) 1, discovered in 2012. Pluto and Charon are sometimes described as a binary system because the barycenter of their orbits does not lie within either body. However, the IAU has yet to formalise a definition for binary dwarf planets, and as such Charon is officially classified as a moon of Pluto.

What Is Pluto?

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by an astronomer from the United States. An astronomer is a person who studies stars and other objects in space.

Pluto was known as the smallest planet in the solar system and the ninth planet from the sun.

Today, Pluto is called a 'dwarf planet.' A dwarf planet orbits the sun just like other planets, but it is smaller. A dwarf planet is so small it cannot clear other objects out of its path.

On average, Pluto is more than 3.6 billion miles (5.8 billion kilometers) away from the sun. That is about 40 times as far from the sun as Earth. Pluto orbits the sun in an oval like a racetrack. Because of its oval orbit, Pluto is sometimes closer to the sun than at other times. At its closest point to the sun Pluto is still billions of miles away.

Pluto is in a region called the Kuiper (KY-per) Belt. Thousands of small, icy objects like Pluto are in the Kuiper Belt.
Pluto is only 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) wide. That's about half the width of the United States. Pluto is slightly smaller than Earth's moon. It takes Pluto 248 years to go around the sun. One day on Pluto is about 6 1/2 days on Earth.
Pluto was named by an 11-year-old girl from England. The dwarf planet has three moons. Its largest moon is named Charon (KER-?n). Charon is about half the size of Pluto.

Pluto's two other moons are named Nix and Hydra. They were discovered in 2005. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took pictures of the two new moons. Nix and Hydra are very small. The moons are less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide.

Why Is Pluto Not Called a Planet Anymore?

In 2003, an astronomer saw a new object beyond Pluto. The astronomer thought he had found a new planet. The object he saw was larger than Pluto. He named the object Eris (EER-is).
Finding Eris caused other astronomers to talk about what makes a planet a 'planet.' There is a group of astronomers that names objects in space. This group decided that Pluto was not really a planet because of its size and location in space. So Pluto and objects like it are now called dwarf planets.
Pluto is also called a plutoid. A plutoid is a dwarf planet that is farther out in space than the planet Neptune. The three known plutoids are Pluto, Eris and Makemake (MAH-kee-MAH-kee). Astronomers use telescopes to discover new objects like plutoids.

Scientists are learning more about the universe and Earth's place in it. What they learn may cause them to think about how objects like planets are grouped. Scientists group objects that are like each other to better understand them. Learning more about faraway objects in the solar system is helping astronomers learn more about what it means to be a planet.

What Is Pluto Like?

Pluto is very, very cold. The temperature on Pluto is 375 to 400 degrees below zero. Pluto is so far away from Earth that scientists know very little about what it is like. Pluto is probably covered with ice.

Pluto has about one-fifteenth the gravity of Earth. A person who weighs 100 pounds on Earth would weigh only 7 pounds on Pluto.
Most planets orbit the sun in a near-circle. The sun is in the center of the circle. But Pluto does not orbit in a circle! The orbit of Pluto is shaped like an oval. And the sun is not in the center. Pluto's orbit is also tilted.
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System (after Eris) and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun. Originally classified as the ninth planet from the Sun, Pluto was recategorized as a dwarf planet and plutoid owing to the discovery that it is only one of several large bodies within the Kuiper belt.
Like other members of the Kuiper belt, Pluto is composed primarily of rock and ice and is relatively small, approximately one-sixth the mass of the Earth's Moon and one-third its volume. It has an eccentric and highly inclined orbit that takes it from 30 to 49 AU (4.4–7.4 billion km) from the Sun. This causes Pluto to periodically come closer to the Sun than Neptune. As of 2011, it is 32.1 AU from the Sun.
From its discovery in 1930 until 2006, Pluto was classified as a planet. In the late 1970s, following the discovery of minor planet 2060 Chiron in the outer Solar System and the recognition of Pluto's relatively low mass, its status as a major planet began to be questioned. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, many objects similar to Pluto were discovered in the outer Solar System, notably the scattered disc object Eris in 2005, which is 27% more massive than Pluto. On August 24, 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) defined what it means to be a 'planet' within the Solar System. This definition excluded Pluto as a planet and added it as a member of the new category 'dwarf planet' along with Eris and Ceres. After the reclassification, Pluto was added to the list of minor planets and given the number 134340. A number of scientists hold that Pluto should continue to be classified as a planet, and that other dwarf planets should be added to the roster of planets along with Pluto.
Pluto has five known moons, the largest being Charon, discovered in 1978, along with Nix and Hydra, discovered in 2005, and the provisionally named S/2011 (134340) 1, discovered in 2011, and S/2012 (134340) 1, discovered in 2012. Pluto and Charon are sometimes described as a binary system because the barycenter of their orbits does not lie within either body. However, the IAU has yet to formalise a definition for binary dwarf planets, and as such Charon is officially classified as a moon of Pluto.

What Is Pluto?

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by an astronomer from the United States. An astronomer is a person who studies stars and other objects in space.

Pluto was known as the smallest planet in the solar system and the ninth planet from the sun.

Today, Pluto is called a 'dwarf planet.' A dwarf planet orbits the sun just like other planets, but it is smaller. A dwarf planet is so small it cannot clear other objects out of its path.

On average, Pluto is more than 3.6 billion miles (5.8 billion kilometers) away from the sun. That is about 40 times as far from the sun as Earth. Pluto orbits the sun in an oval like a racetrack. Because of its oval orbit, Pluto is sometimes closer to the sun than at other times. At its closest point to the sun Pluto is still billions of miles away.

Pluto is in a region called the Kuiper (KY-per) Belt. Thousands of small, icy objects like Pluto are in the Kuiper Belt.
Pluto is only 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) wide. That's about half the width of the United States. Pluto is slightly smaller than Earth's moon. It takes Pluto 248 years to go around the sun. One day on Pluto is about 6 1/2 days on Earth.
Pluto was named by an 11-year-old girl from England. The dwarf planet has three moons. Its largest moon is named Charon (KER-?n). Charon is about half the size of Pluto.

Pluto's two other moons are named Nix and Hydra. They were discovered in 2005. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took pictures of the two new moons. Nix and Hydra are very small. The moons are less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide.

Why Is Pluto Not Called a Planet Anymore?

In 2003, an astronomer saw a new object beyond Pluto. The astronomer thought he had found a new planet. The object he saw was larger than Pluto. He named the object Eris (EER-is).
Finding Eris caused other astronomers to talk about what makes a planet a 'planet.' There is a group of astronomers that names objects in space. This group decided that Pluto was not really a planet because of its size and location in space. So Pluto and objects like it are now called dwarf planets.
Pluto is also called a plutoid. A plutoid is a dwarf planet that is farther out in space than the planet Neptune. The three known plutoids are Pluto, Eris and Makemake (MAH-kee-MAH-kee). Astronomers use telescopes to discover new objects like plutoids.

Scientists are learning more about the universe and Earth's place in it. What they learn may cause them to think about how objects like planets are grouped. Scientists group objects that are like each other to better understand them. Learning more about faraway objects in the solar system is helping astronomers learn more about what it means to be a planet.

What Is Pluto Like?

Pluto is very, very cold. The temperature on Pluto is 375 to 400 degrees below zero. Pluto is so far away from Earth that scientists know very little about what it is like. Pluto is probably covered with ice.

Pluto has about one-fifteenth the gravity of Earth. A person who weighs 100 pounds on Earth would weigh only 7 pounds on Pluto.
Most planets orbit the sun in a near-circle. The sun is in the center of the circle. But Pluto does not orbit in a circle! The orbit of Pluto is shaped like an oval. And the sun is not in the center. Pluto's orbit is also tilted.
Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluto

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