15 Informative and Interesting facts about Pluto

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

Pluto is the largest dwarf planet of our solar system. It is forty times farther from the sun than the Earth. Pluto was once the smallest planet in our solar system. But in August 2006, Pluto was classified as a dwarf planet because it does not meet the three requirements, set by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). However, many people, even today, do not fully agree with the IAU's decision. The discovery of Eris (second-largest dwarf planet) in 2005 was one of the main reasons for Pluto's demotion.


Apart from Pluto's status, there is a lot to know about this beautiful icy world. Let's explore 15 interesting facts about the dwarf planet.


Image of largest dwarf planet Pluto and its largest moon Charon
Pluto and its largest moon Charon IMAGE Credit - NASA

1. Pluto is very small, it is just 70 percent the diameter of Earth's moon.


2. On Pluto, You don't have to wait for the night sky to see stars. Pluto is so far from the Sun that, stars are visible even during the day time.


3. Pluto has five moons, which is highest than all the other dwarf planets.


4. NASA's New Horizons, launched in Jan 2006, reached Pluto in July 2015, is the only spacecraft to visit Pluto.

5. The average temperature on Pluto is about -390 degrees Fahrenheit ( or -234 degrees Celsius).


6. The name Pluto was suggested by a 11-year-old girl, Venetia Burney, in 1930.


7. Pluto orbits the sun in 248 Earth-years. For 20 years out of 248 years, Pluto actually comes closer to the sun than Neptune.


Image showing how pluto crosses Neptune's orbit every 248 years.
Orbit of Pluto and Neptune.

8. Pluto's largest moon Charon is about half of Pluto's size.


9. Pluto and Charon are mutually tidal locked with each other, meaning -

(i) They both show the same side to each other all the time.

(ii) Pluto appears on the same spot in the sky when viewing from Charon surface and vice versa.


10. Pluto's orbit is inclined at an angle of 17.14° to the plane of the ecliptic, while the inclination of planets of our solar system ranges from 0 to 7.01°.


Image showing the inclination difference between Pluto and planets.
Orbit of Pluto compare to the planets of the Solar System. IMAGE Credit - KaiserScience

11. Pluto's orbit is much more elliptical than the orbits of planets of our solar system.


Image showing all the planets have nearly circular orbits while Pluto has highly elliptical orbit
Near-circular orbits of planets and elliptical orbit of Pluto

12. It is estimated that Pluto is 30 percent frozen water and 70 percent rock.


13. When Pluto is at a closer distance to the sun in its orbit, its atmosphere becomes thicker than when it is farther.


14. If your weight on Earth is 100 kg then your weight on Pluto will be just 7 kg.


15. Percival Lowell, an American astronomer, predicted the location of Pluto 15 years before the discovery of Pluto.