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Everything you know about who’s in the Solar system could be wrong

Updated on August 9, 2012
Until the last few years this is what was taught in schools. Now this model is inadequate.
Until the last few years this is what was taught in schools. Now this model is inadequate. | Source

As we grew up we learned about the nine planets. Students were taught to recite the planets in order from closest to the sun to the furthest: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. However, as technology becomes more advanced, we find that everything we thought we knew about the solar system could be wrong. Our solar system has gone from 9 planets to 8 and now potentially as much as 24.

If we possessed the ability to travel back in time, we would learn ever more about our changing galaxy. For example, in 1850 the record shows that we had 23 planets in the system. Even with their primitive astrological devices, they could see the dwarf planets Ceres, Vesta, Makemake, and Eris. Coincidentally, those are all planets that are now in line to be considered in the same scope as the planet Pluto. As people began seeing patterns in space they were able to better categorize the celestial bodies, and the list was eventually reduced to the 9 we have had for decades.


The problem began with the planet Pluto. In recent years Pluto has been the hot topic of debate. It is a well-know fact that Pluto was a small planet. Pluto was also the furthest out in an area of our solar system called the Kuiper Belt. Since Pluto had its own satellite (or moon for those who are not space pros) it was considered a planet. Even so, since 1970 people have been questioning the status of Pluto especially with the discovery of a larger planet near Pluto called Eris. Finally after much debate, the International Astrological Union (IAU) finally defined what makes a planet in 2006.

The three classifications were that it has to orbit around the sun, which it does. It has to have sufficient mass to assume a nearly round shape (or hydrostatic equilibrium for space buffs), and finally it has to “clear its neighborhood". Clearing the neighborhood essentially means that it is gravitationally dominant and it has no competing planets in its rotation. This last classification is what excluded Pluto as a planet because Pluto shares its space with several other “planets” and all the larger objects in the Kuiper belt. The orbit of Pluto actually comes closer to the sun then Neptune periodically, so it shares more space than one would think. According to the experts, this changes Pluto’s status to a dwarf planet. Still, the plot thickens, and Pluto has not totally been removed from the roster yet.

Instead, the IAU has decided that we should keep Pluto in our solar system and also add the current 5 named dwarf planets in our system. So far, the request has been accepted for three: Ceres, Eris and Pluto. However, there are two more that are strong candidates; makemake and Haumea. The IAU has actually accepted all 5 as dwarf planets, but they are not added to the list of solar system planets yet. There is a big reason for this; so far there is a list of candidates that is 703 “planets” long. It would be very difficult to convince any school board to accept the new list of 703 planets, or even 50 planets. Teaching children about the solar system could become an arduous task. In a time when there are many battles in the education system, the planets of the solar system fall short of most important.

Luna is the Moon of Earth for reference of size. Everything is to scale with the earth at the bottom to get a better idea of the sizes.
Luna is the Moon of Earth for reference of size. Everything is to scale with the earth at the bottom to get a better idea of the sizes. | Source

Everything we know about the amount of planets may be wrong, but there is still more to this twisted story. Recent scientific discovery has left the building, and allowed the city of Chicago to speak. The Chicago council has decided to rule that the laws IAU has set forth, do not apply in Illinois. Pluto is still a planet according to their law. Apparently space, logic and time are not out of the range of minor law.

Our existence is an amazing thing. We are discovering new things every day. Nasa said that they discovered and categorized over 1,233 planets this year. They have also found an asteroid made entirely of diamond. Every day is an opportunity to learn and every learning opportunity is promoting further discovery of the place we call home: our solar system.


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    • pennyofheaven profile image


      8 years ago from New Zealand

      At school we were taught the following to remember the order of the planets.

      Marys violet eyes makes John sit up nights pining.

      It seems we would need a 1,233 essay to remember all the planets in School nowadays!

      Excellent informative hub!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Worth reading and knowledgeable.

    • Window Pain profile image

      Window Pain 

      8 years ago

      By the way, Karmallama is your last name Ding-Dong?


      Okay, I'd better explain that... it's one of the songs Otis Day & the Knights were singing at the 'Animal House' toga party.

      Window Pain=movie buff

      (or was it 'Sharmallama'?)

    • Karmallama profile imageAUTHOR

      Dreen Lucky 

      8 years ago from St. Paul, minnesota

      Thank you as well for the visit.

    • Karmallama profile imageAUTHOR

      Dreen Lucky 

      8 years ago from St. Paul, minnesota

      Thank you point2make. I enjoyed making this hub. There was so much information it was hard to keep it to a good size. Space is such an interesting place and I am excited to see what we will learn too. Hopefully they'll send the probe to Europa too because I've heard promising things about it too.

    • point2make profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent and informative hub. I enjoyed the astronomy lessons both the practical and political. Pluto will always be a planet to many of us...regardless of what the IAU decrees. Our solar system is truly amazing and forever changing. In July 2014 when the New Horizons probe reaches Pluto I predict there will be new "truths" revealed in the scientific data that may cause us to revisit the IAU decision. At the very least Pluto will have it's day in the pun intended!. Voted this hub up!

    • colombostock profile image


      8 years ago from Colombo Sri Lanka

      Really interesting article. Learned new things about solar system. Thanks!

    • Karmallama profile imageAUTHOR

      Dreen Lucky 

      8 years ago from St. Paul, minnesota

      Thank you for catching that - I made sure and update it so it is better now

      I have heard the plutoed reference before, and it was actuallly a shirt with a similar phrase that brought my mind to this hub

    • Window Pain profile image

      Window Pain 

      8 years ago

      Very nice Hubpage!

      "Pluto has been then hot topic of debate." Good one!

      There was a word which unfortunately never gained popular usage...

      "Plutoed" adj. To be unceremoniously dumped from your position.

      as in "He got Plutoed at work."


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