Pluto is discovered by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh on February 18, 1930. When it was discovered it was classified as planet. But in 2006 Pluto was no longer consider as a planet but rather designated as a “dwarf planet”. Dwarf planet means it is a planetary-mass object being neither a planet nor a satellite. Pluto was declared as a dwarf planet by International Astronomical Union (IAU)
Pluto is still a mystery for astronomers. Very few knowledge about Pluto is discovered till now. But the discovered knowledge is very amazing. Some interesting facts related to Pluto are given below:
1. The dwarf planet Pluto is named from the ancient Roman god of the underworld.
2.When Pluto was discovered in 1930, many people wrote in suggesting names for the new planet.
Some suggestions were Cronus, Persephone, Erebus, Atlas and Prometheus. Eleven year old Venetia Burney suggested the name Pluto. She thought it would be a good name since Pluto is so dark and far away like the god of the underworld. On May 1, 1930 the name Pluto became official and the little girl received a 5 pound note as a reward.
3. Pluto is the smallest dwarf planet in the solar system, smaller than Earth’s moon and half the width of Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede.
4. Pluto’s journey around the Sun takes 248 Earth’s years. This means that since its discovery in 1930, it still has over 163 years to go until it has made a complete orbit around the Sun.
5. For 20 years of its almost 248-years orbit Pluto is closer to Sun than Neptune because of its off-center and highly inclined orbit. For example, from 1979 to 1999, Pluto was the eight planets and Neptune was the ninth. Now Pluto is back to being the ninth planet (though dwarf) for the next 228 years. It will be closer to the Sun again on April 5, 2231.
6. According to some Astronomers, Pluto used to be one of Neptune’s moons, but somehow broke out of its orbit.
7. If you weigh 100 lbs., your weight on Pluto would be 7 lbs. (Multiply your actual weight by .067).
8. Pluto is the only known dwarf planet with an atmosphere. It is very thin and would be toxic for humans to breathe. When Pluto is closet to Sun, its atmosphere is gas. When Pluto is farthest from the Sun, its atmosphere freezes and falls like snow.
9. A day on Pluto is equivalent to Earth’s 6 days and 9 hours. It has the second slowest rotation in the solar system.
10. Pluto has 4 identical moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra and S/2011. Charon is not much smaller than Pluto. (Pluto is 2280 kilometers wide, Charon is 1212 kilometers wide)
11. Because Pluto’s moon Charon and Pluto orbit each other, Charon appears to stand still in Pluto’s sky. Additionally, the same side of Charon and Pluto always face each other.
12. One study suggests that Charon might have Ocean on it.
13. When gazing at the Sun from Pluto it would appear as a tiny bright star because to two are so far away from each other.
14. Sunlight is almost 2000 times dimmer on Pluto than it is on earth and the Sun would be only a small point in the sky. The Sun would be 1/30 as big and 1/900 as bright as it is on Earth, though it would be still be much brighter than a full moon. It takes about five hours for sunlight to reach Pluto.
15. Pluto orbits the Sun on a different plane than the 8 planets, going over them and below them.
16. Pluto’s orbit is elliptical, meaning that it can come closer to the Sun than Neptune but then go almost 2 billion kilometers further away from Neptune’s orbit.
17. On Pluto, the Sun rises and sets about once a week.
18. Since being declassified as a plane, Pluto’s technical name is now asteroid number 134340.
19. When Pluto was considered as a planet, it was the coldest of all the planets. Temperature on Pluto can range from -240 degree Celsius to -218 degree Celsius. The average temperature on Pluto is -229 degree Celsius.
20. Pluto spins in the opposite direction as Earth, which means Sun rises in the west and sets in the east. Only Venus, Uranus and Pluto have a retrograde rotation.