Pluto's mass is about 12,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms. While this may seem
large, it's only about 1/500th of the Earth's mass. Pluto is between 2200 and 2400
kilometres across. Its surface area is about 17,950,000 square kilometres (or 1/30th of the
Earth's). Its volume is 7,150,000,000 km3 (or 1/150th of the Earth's)

We don't really know for sure what its surface is like. No spacecraft has ever been there,
and even the best telescopes can't see any detail. It is certainly very cold, at about -230 °C.
The surface is covered with ice. Pluto also has a very thin atmosphere which freezes when
Pluto moves far away from the
Sun.

Pluto has three known moons. The largest is called Charon. Charon is about half as wide
as Pluto. Because Pluto and Charon are so close in size, they are sometimes called a
"double planet". Charon's surface is covered in water ice. In Roman mythology, Charon
took dead souls across the river Acheron to the land of the dead. Two other moons were
discovered in 2005. They have been named Nix and Hydra.

One day on Pluto is about 6.487
Earth days long. Like Uranus, Pluto also spins on its side.
One year on Pluto would be about 90,613 days or 248 years on Earth!

What is it made of?
Scientists believe Pluto is made mostly of rock and ice, but they will not be sure until more
research is done. The discovery of Charon helped scientists estimate the density of Pluto.
The information collected told them what Pluto was and was not made out of. If Pluto were
made out of heavy solids, it would have a very high density. If it were made of gases, it
would have a low density. Pluto is somewhere in between, so it is probably made of rock
and ice.

How much would Pluto's gravity pull on me?
If you were on Pluto, gravity would be only 0.06 times as strong as it is on Earth.  This
means you could do really high jumps—even more than people could on the Moon!

Who is Pluto named after?
Pluto was named after the Roman god of the underworld. In Roman mythology, he
kidnapped Proserpina (Persephone) so he could marry her. This made her mother, the
goddess of agriculture, very sad, causing winter. To end winter, Jupiter, his brother, sent
Mercury to get her back. Pluto agreed that she could go back, assuming she had not eaten
anything from the underworld. However, she had eaten six pomegranate seeds, so Jupiter
decided she had to spend six months in the underworld each year. This is the Roman
myth of winter. When she goes to the underworld, everything stops growing. When she
comes back, her mother is happy again, and life returns.

In Roman mythology, Pluto (Greek: Hades) is the god of the underworld. The planet
received this name (after many other suggestions) perhaps because it's so far from the
Sun that it is in perpetual darkness and perhaps because "PL" are the initials of Percival
Lowell.

Is Pluto a planet?
Pluto has been officially classified as a dwarf planet, which is different than a regular
planet. One of the reasons is that it is a lot smaller than other planets - although it is the
tenth largest known object that revolves around the sun, it is smaller than many moons,
including Earth's moon. Scientists used to think that Pluto was a lot larger than it actually
is, and it was thought of as the ninth planet for many years.

Another key reason is that Pluto is part of a large group of objects called the Kuiper Belt,
which all revolve around the Sun in the area beyond Neptune. It appears that there are
several Pluto-sized objects in this part of the solar system, as well as millions of smaller
objects.

In the world of astronomy, not everyone agrees. However, most scientists now accept that
Pluto isn't a regular planet.



Who Discovered Pluto:

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by a fortunate accident. Calculations which later turned out to
be in error had predicted a planet beyond Neptune, based on the motions of Uranus and
Neptune. Not knowing of the error, Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Arizona
did a very careful sky survey which turned up Pluto anyway.

Pluto has not yet been visited by a spacecraft. Even the Hubble Space Telescope can
resolve only the largest features on its surface (left and above). A spacecraft called New
Horizons was launched in January 2006. If all goes well it should reach Pluto in 2015.

Pluto has a satellite, Charon which was discovered in 1978.

In a Nutshell
For many years, Pluto was thought of as the farthest known planet from the Sun. It has a
very unusual orbit. Once every 248 Earth years, Pluto swings inside the orbit of Neptune. It
stays there for twenty years. During those twenty years, Pluto is closer to the Sun than
Neptune. While it is closer to the Sun, Pluto has an atmosphere. The methane and
nitrogen frozen at the poles thaw out, rise, and temporarily form an atmosphere. As it
moves toward its farthest point from the Sun, Pluto's atmosphere freezes and falls back to
the ground. Since the year 2000, astronomers realized that Pluto was not like the other
eight planets but very much like a new group of objects found in the outer solar system. In
2006, astronomers re-classified Pluto to be a dwarf planet.

Pluto has three moons. Pluto's largest moon, Charon, is half the size of Pluto. In 2005,
astronomers observed two more moons of Pluto. The moons were named Nix and Hydra.  
Like the Earth's Moon, Charon may be the result of a collision between Pluto and another
body.  

Charon is named after the mythological figure who ferried the dead across the River
Acheron into Hades (The Underworld).  Charon’s discoverer, Jim Christy, also named this
moon/planet after his wife, Charlene.  Christy discovered Charon in 1978

The surface temperature on Pluto varies between about -235 and -210 C.  Pluto can be
seen with an amateur telescope but it is not easy

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Our Solar System
Pluto
Our Solar System
This comprehensive book
contains information on all
major planets, major star
constellations, space
exploration and our solar
system. Included are fact
sheets, fast facts,
wordsearches, crossword
puzzles, Q's & A's, Student
Activity Sheets,
Teacher/parent resources
and tips, lesson plans and
crafts and activities.  
Preview
entire book 208 pages
The Chinese lunar calendar
dates back to the second
millennium BC. The Chinese
calendar is cyclical. Each
cycle is made up of 12 years;
after the 12th year, the cycle
is repeated.  
This book
contains comprehensive
teacher/parent resources,
lesson plans and activities
relating both to the Chinese
Zodiac and to the Chinese
New Year. A Fun interactive
learning experience for Gr
K-5  with a particular focus
on adjectives,  
characteristics and traits.  
Preview the entire book here