• LOCATION 8 | Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson

    Pluto

    Let's not forget Pluto, Fred.

    Once considered the furthest planet in our solar system, after much debate the International Astronomical Union, Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet in August 2006. Pluto, is a rocky icy object, smaller than the Earth’s Moon and could fit between Perth and Sydney if we placed it on the earth. There are currently five known little planets classified as dwarf planets in our solar system. Ceres, Pluto, Makemake, Haumea and Eris. Except for Ceres, which lies in the main asteroid belt, these small planets are located in the Kuiper Belt.

    If this change had not been made in the classification, we would have a solar system with 14 planets in it!

    The famous tiny dwarf planet, Pluto, was discovered on 18 February 1930 by an American astronomer Clive Tombeuagh, who used a blinkometer to compare images of the night sky, picking up a small dot moving across the sky. Famously, it was named after the Roman god of the underworld by an 11-year-old English schoolgirl named Venetia Burney when her grandfather passed along her suggestion to his Oxford University acquaintance, Clyde Tombaugh.

    The planet was named before Mickey Mouse’s pet dog who first appeared by name in The Moose Hunt in 1931.

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Highlights from the Virtual Solar System Drive with Fred Watson