• LOCATION 12 | Virtual Solar System Drive: From Narrabri to Siding Spring with Fred Watson

    Pluto - Bellata

    Now, you may be asking yourself about Pluto. Where is it? Is it a planet?

    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.

    One thing to put in the diary - In September 2226 Pluto will travel inside Neptune's path for 20 years of its 248-year orbit, making this virtual solar system model incorrect.

    If you're keen to see the model of the Pluto in the virtual model of the Solar System, there are 5 located 205 kilometres from the Anglo Australian Telescope dome along the various routes into and out of Coonabaraban.

    In the real Solar System, Pluto is 5955 million kilometres from the Sun!

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Virtual Solar System Drive: From Narrabri to Siding Spring with Fred Watson