Planet Pluto 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.

In 2006, we lost a planet. Well, sort of. The planet Pluto was originally called the ninth planet in our solar system, but it was changed to a dwarf planet. Pluto is still way out there in the blackness and holds lots of mystery. This lesson will teach you about the basics of our once smallest planet.

Pluto is Out There

Unlike the most of the other main planets that have been known to us for many years, Pluto was only discovered in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. It had to be seen using a telescope because Pluto is too small and too far away to see with the naked eye. It was named after the Roman God of the underworld. Unlike the other outer planets, Pluto is a combination of a rocky core and a massive, thick layer of ice.

Pluto has a rocky core covered with a thick layer of ice
Pluto Cutaway

Pluto is also very small. The diameter of Pluto is only 1,471 miles (2386 kilometers). It's smaller than Mercury and several moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Pluto is also way out there. I mean WAY out. Pluto varies in distance from the sun, but an average of about 3.7 billion miles (5.9 billion kilometers) from the Sun is fairly accurate. Because of its size and odd orbit, it was downgraded from a full planet to a dwarf planet in 2006 and left us with only eight planets in the solar system.

Moons, Orbit and Other Differences

Despite its small size, Pluto still has 5 moons that orbit around it. The largest moon is called Charon and is fairly large when compared to Pluto. Charon was named after the ferryman that took people to the underworld.

Pluto has 5 moons. The largest is Charon.
Pluto Moons

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