Our Solar System
After the controversial vote the IAU (International Astronomical Union) had on
August 24, 2006, our solar system now consists of 8 planets, 3 dwarf planets, hundreds of comets,
thousands of asteroids, and around a dozen objects being put up for consideration as dwarf planets.
This section of this site will talk about the planets and dwarf planets in our solar
system in more detail on the fallowing pages.
What is the difference between
a planet and a dwarf planet?
Actually, when it comes to size, there is no difference.
According to the IAU a planet is an object that:
A dwarf planet is pretty much the same thing as a planet except that it has not cleared the
neighborhood around its orbit of any other objects. Below is a list of planets
and dwarf planets in our solar system. Clicking on the name of the object will take you to a
page with more info about it.
- is in orbit around a star or stellar remnants;
- has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it
assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape;
- is not massive enough to initiate thermonuclear fusion of deuterium in its core; and,
- has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit of other objects.
What is so controversial about the IAU vote?
I could probably should make an entire page about the controversy
but I won't right now. The controversy is that it demotes Pluto from being a planet. Every
one in school was taught Pluto is not a planet and now the IAU is saying its not. About 2/3rd
of people according to an NBC poll sow that people aren't happy about that (including me. I'm very
pro-Pluto and am only listing it as a dwarf planet because that is its official classification).
In addition, most leading scientists who are experts on our solar system are saying that Pluto is
indeed a planet and will not except the definition of a planet the IAU came up with. Some are even
saying that under that definition, there are actually four planets in our Solar System: Mercury, Venus,
Saturn, and Uranus. They say that Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune don't meet the last condition
of being a planet and I agree with them as that there is still tons of stuff that are in or crossing
the orbits of those planets. Given the public out cry and mutiny among the astronomers,
the current definition of a planet will not last long (expressly after the state of California
has officially entered the debate on the side of the pro-Pluto people).