Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Stars/Planets

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Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book
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Solar System diagram showing the relative sizes of the planets (plus Pluto, a dwarf planet)


The planets in our solar system, starting from the Sun, are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Pluto was also considered a planet from 1930 until 2006 when the International Astronomer's Union (IAU) was prompted by the discovery Eris, a body larger than Pluto, to come up with a formal definition of the word "planet." For years leading up to this announcement there had been rumblings in the scientific community that classifying Pluto as a planet had been a mistake, much as the classification of Ceres, the largest asteroid had been a mistake in the 1800's. After the discovery of Ceres, more and more asteroids were discovered, and it became increasingly clear that it was not a planet. The same thing began to happen in the late 1900's when astronomers began to discover several Pluto-like objects in the Kuiper belt. The debate came to a head with the discovery of Eris, which has a diameter that exceeds Pluto's by 70 miles (110 km). The IAU would have to either recognize Eris as the tenth planet or "demote" Pluto. The demotion of Pluto, though not popular with the general public, makes the most scientific sense and demonstrates that science is capable of correcting its errors.

The new definition of a planet requires that an object a) orbit a star (such as the Sun), b) not orbit another planet (such as a satellite), and c) dominate the vicinity of its orbit. Pluto did not make the cut because its orbit is dominated by Neptune, and there are many objects orbiting in its vicinity that Pluto has no effect upon.

There are a number of mnemonic phrases that are easily memorized for remembering the names of the planets, including "My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Noodles.