Planet

1582 Words Apr 10th, 2005 7 Pages
In the outer limits of our solar system there is a planet unlike any other, Pluto. Pluto was discovered in February of 1930 by an American astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh. It is the only planet to have been discovered by an American. All though we have known of the existence of Pluto for over thirty years now, there are still many mysteries surrounding this celestial body. Being the farthest planet has made it difficult to study Pluto, Adding to the obscurity of this strange planet is that the capability to send spacecraft such distances has never been achieved. Through the wonders of science and astronomy, there are many things that can be determined, concluded, and hypothesized about this obscure planet. Pluto's discovery was actually a …show more content…
This gives Pluto the appearance that it is tipped on its side, which, in essence, it virtually is. Pluto's rotation also has notable qualities. Pluto's rotation period is 6.387 days, the same as its satellite/moon Charon. Although it is common for a moon to travel in a synchronous orbit with its planet, Pluto is the only planet to rotate synchronously with the orbit of its satellite. Thus being tidally locked, Pluto and Charon continuously face each other as they travel through space. From 1985 to 1990, the Earth lined up with Pluto and Charon to cause and eclipse every Pluto day. This occurrence allowed astronomers to gather a multitude of valuable information about Pluto and its moon. The eclipses lasted as much as four hours and by carefully timing their beginning and ending, measurements for their diameters were taken. Photograph's later taken by the Hubble telescope confirms Pluto's diameter of 1413 miles, and Charon's, at nearly half the size, 728 miles across within one percent accuracy.
Astronomers where also able to determine the density of Pluto during the daily eclipses. By discovering the density to be approximately two grams per cubic centimeter, astronomers where able to hypothesize the make up of the planet. They concluded that Pluto is fifty to seventy percent rock with mixed with ice. Astronomers are also confident in the density of Charon. If correct, the approximate density of one gram per cubic centimeter would mean that Charon

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