25 Curious Facts Concerning Pluto; The Demoted Planet

For most of our lives, we’ve considered Pluto a planet, much like any other planet in our solar system. However, all of that changed when in 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) reclassified Pluto as a “Dwarf Planet”. A controversial decision that was largely based on the discovery of numerous icy objects similar to Pluto with eccentric orbits. Needless to say, today Pluto is no longer classified as a planet (which could change due to some recent events with the IAU) but that does not make it any less interesting…

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Pluto was named by an 11-year-old girl, Venetia Burney of Oxford, England.

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Pluto's surface is one of the coldest places in the solar system at roughly minus 375 degrees F (minus 225 degrees C).

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Pluto is the only dwarf planet to once have been considered a major planet.

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NASA's New Horizons mission will be the first probe to study Pluto. It was launched on January 2006, and will be near Pluto on July 2015.

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In a very controversial move, Pluto was demoted to the status of a dwarf planet in 2006.

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When Pluto was discovered it was initially believed to be larger than Earth.

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Now astronomers know that it's about 1,455 miles (2,352 kilometers) across. Less than 20 percent as big as the Earth.

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Pluto takes 248 Earth years to complete one orbit. To put this into perspective, Pluto still has 160 years to go in order to make a full orbit around the sun since it was first discovered.

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Due to Pluto’s strange orbit, for a few years at a time, Pluto's orbit overlaps with Neptune's. This brings Pluto closer to Earth than Neptune, the eighth planet from the sun.

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Scientists speculate that Pluto's surface could have cold-liquid-belching cryovolcanoes or geysers

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Pluto has five known moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra and two newly discovered tiny satellites. While Nix, Hydra and the two new finds are relatively small, Charon is about half the size of Pluto.

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Because of Charon's size, some astronomers regard Pluto and Charon as a double dwarf planet.

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Pluto is the smallest dwarf planet in the Solar System, smaller than Earth’s Moon, and half the width of Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede.

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A day on Pluto is equivalent to 6 days and 9 hours on Earth, meaning that it has the second slowest rotation in the Solar System (after Venus, which takes 243 days to turn on its axis).

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According to some astronomers, Pluto used to be one of Neptune’s moons, but it somehow broke out of its orbit.

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Pluto was first located by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930.

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One of the reasons why Pluto was declassified as a planet was because there are asteroids in the solar system bigger than Pluto.

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Since being declassified as a planet, Pluto’s technical name is now 134340

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The sun would look like a bright star from Pluto, since they are so far away from each other.

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Charon and Pluto are gravitationally locked, and always present the same face toward each other as they orbit a common center of mass located somewhere between them

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You’d think that Charon orbits Pluto, but in reality, Pluto and Charon orbit a common point in space. In the case of the Earth and the Moon, we actually orbit a common point, but that point exists inside the Earth. In the case of Pluto and Charon, however, that common point is somewhere above the surface of Pluto.

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When it was first discovered, Pluto was just given the generic name Planet X.

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If you could bring Pluto closer to the Sun, it would sprout a tail and become a comet.

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The surface gravity on Pluto is about 1/12th the surface gravity on Earth. To put this into perspective, if you weigh 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 8 pounds on Pluto.

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Due to Pluto’s demotion as a planet there is a new category of small planets known as plutoids.

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