Pluto is the second largest dwarf planet of the Solar System. Until very recently it was actually considered to be the ninth planet in the solar system and the furthest from the sun. It is one of several large bodies in a newly discovered region known as the Kuiper Belt. Pluto is made up of mostly ice and rock and is smaller in mass and volume than the Moon. Pluto does not orbit the sun on the same plane that the other planets do, but has a higher more elongated orbit.
Interesting facts about Pluto
- Pluto was discovered by accident as astronomers searched for “Planet X” a planet presumed to exist beyond Neptune due to mathematical calculations and the motions of Uranus and Neptune.
- Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, a 23-year-old who had just arrived at the Lowell Observatory where they were searching for Planet X.
- Pluto has four known moons, Charon, Nix, Hydra and S/2011 P 1. There is some speculation that suggests Pluto and Charon are binary dwarf planets. The moons orbit unusually close to the planet.
- Pluto is named after the Roman god of the underworld.
- Pluto was named by a young girl named Venetia Burney. She suggested the name to her grandfather who cabled it to colleagues in the United States. She suggested this name as it seemed a fitting name for such as cold, dark world. Pluto was officially named on March 24, 1930.
- Pluto has not yet been visited by a spacecraft due to its enormous distance from the Earth. Currently the space craft New Horizons is set to reach Pluto in 2015.
- The radius of Pluto is not actually known due to its distance from the Earth. Even the Hubble Telescope cannot deliver clear details of the Planet.
- The surface temperature of Pluto ranges between -235 and -210 C (38 to 63 K).
- One day on Pluto is equal to 6.39 days on Earth.
- Pluto rotates on its side with the equator of the planet being at right angle to its orbit.
- Pluto has many colors on its surface and is one of the Solar systems most contrastive bodies. It has large bright and dark patches and ranges in color from white, blue to red and orange.
- Pluto’s status as a planet has been argued for many years and in 2006 it was deemed a dwarf planet, because it doesn’t meet the criteria to be classified as a planet.