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Pluto Is Not a Planet – It’s a Dwarf Planet

Pluto is referred to as a “dwarf planet” due to its diminutive size. Pluto is only half the size of North America which is why it’s categorized as a dwarf planet.

Pluto is located in the Kuiper Belt. This is a region on the outskirts of our solar system where frozen objects and dwarf planets can be found. Pluto is the largest dwarf planet in that region, earning it the nickname “King of the Kuiper Belt.” Understanding that part of our solar system could aid our understanding of how our solar system came to be.

The majority of planets in the solar system orbit the sun in nearly perfect circles. Pluto, on the other hand, orbits around the Sun in an oval-shaped orbit. For around eight percent of its orbit, Pluto is closer to the Sun than Neptune. Its orbit also deviates from the neat plane in which other planets orbit; it orbits the Sun in a lop-sided pattern. Pluto takes 248 Earth years to complete a full orbit around the sun.

Pluto’s moon Charon is half the size of Pluto. Charon is our solar system’s largest moon compared to the body it circles. A complete orbit around Pluto takes the moon six and a half Earth days to complete.

Pluto is a very interesting dwarf planet. Its temperature is around 400 degrees below zero Fahrenheit due to how far it is from the Sun. If you stood on Pluto the Sun would appear as a bright dot and its light would be as bright as the light from the full moon if you were on Earth. Another interesting fact is that if you weighed seven pounds on Pluto, you would weigh 100 lbs. on Earth.

While Pluto lost its status as a planet in our solar system due to its small size, it is still an interesting part of space that is worth our study and understanding.

[Sources: sciencenewsforstudents.org; spaceplace.nasa.gov]

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