Sunday, August 13, 2006

How many planets are in our solar system?

Science News Article | Reuters.com Pluto's fate decided

If you answered nine, you may soon be wrong.


Some 3,000 astronomers and scientists from around the world will meet in Prague this week to decide whether Pluto, discovered in 1930, measures up to the definition of a planet.

In defining for the first time what exactly a planet is, the International Astronomers Union (IAU) may be forced to downgrade Pluto's status, or add as many as 14 others.

Such a decision would send shockwaves through the scientific community, instantly outdate textbooks, and cause educators to re-teach the basics of our solar system.


Here's the gist. Pluto is small, measuring 1,422 miles across. Xena, aka UB 313, found in 2003, is 1,490 miles across. Both celestial bodies reside in the Kuiper Belt, which is beyond Neptune. (For comparison, our moon is roughly 2,100 miles across and Earth is 8,000 miles across.)

Soon, the answer to the title question could be eight: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Or, perhaps it will be 23. Can you pronouce Quaoar?

And, I found this site as I was reading up on these non-planets or maybe planets. I enjoyed it, but I am a geek. (Quite proud of it, actually.)

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