1. Pluto was reclassified from a planet to a dwarf planet in 2006.
This was when the IAU formalized the definition of a planet as “A planet is a celestial body that
- is in orbit around the Sun,
- has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and
- has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.”
2. An 11-year-old girl gave Pluto its name.
When Venetia Burney’s grandfather told her the news of the newly discovered planet, she proposed Pluto’s name, after the Roman god of the Underworld.
3. Pluto is one-third water.
Pluto’s surface is covered with ices and has several mountain ranges, light and dark regions, and a scattering of craters.
4. Pluto has five known moons.
These are Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra.
5. Pluto is smaller than many moons.
The moons Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, Io, Europa, Triton, and the Earth’s moon are all larger than Pluto.
6. The term “plutoid” is used to describe objects in the solar system that are rounded and orbit the Sun beyond the orbit of Neptune.
There are currently only four recognized plutoids – Pluto, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake.
7. Disney’s Pluto, the dog, was named after the former planet.
Disney’s Pluto, the dog, debuted in the same year the former planet was discovered and was named after the former planet.
8. Pluto has a heart shape on its surface.
The heart-shaped feature is now called Tombaugh Regio. It’s a large, bright plain – largest feature on the former planet – named for Pluto’s discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh.
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