Kuiper Belt Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jeremy Cook

I have been teaching elementary school for 16 years. I have extensive experience in lesson and curriculum development and educational technology.

Do you have to wear a belt to keep your pants from falling down? Did you know that our solar system has it's own belt that circles around it. This belt doesn't hold up the solar systems pants, but it contains some cool stuff. This lesson will teach you about the Kuiper Belt.

What is the Kuiper Belt?

In 1951, a Dutch astronomer named Gerard Kuiper had a theory that there was an area way out beyond Neptune where icy objects orbited the sun. In 1992, telescopes first began to see the small, icy objects in the area where Kuiper suggested they would be. Most of the objects in the Kuiper Belt are relatively small, icy pieces that travel in a circular orbit around the Sun. Most of the objects are less than 7 miles across, so they are hard to see, even with a telescope. Because they are so far away, it takes hundreds of years for them to revolve around the sun.

The location of the Kuiper Belt in the Solar System
Kuiper Belt Orbit

Dwarf Planet in the Kuiper Belt

Pluto used to be classified as a planet, but was changed to a dwarf planet in 2006. Pluto was the largest known object in the Kuiper Belt until 2005. In 2005, astronomers observed an even larger object that they nicknamed Xena. Soon after, they gave it a proper name and called it Eris. Eris is nearly twice as farf from the sun as Pluto and bigger than Pluto, with its own moon called Dysnomia. Although many scientists believe that Eris originated in the Kuiper Belt, it's actually further out. Later, there were two more dwarf planets found in the Kuiper Belt called Makemake and Haumea. They are both smaller than Pluto.

Kuiper Dwarf Planets caption=

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