Skywatch

  • December 8, 2005

    Episode 13: Pluto's New Moons

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    Shownotes

    What is Pluto? Currently Pluto is embroiled in a controversy over whether it should be called a planet or a Kuiper Belt object. The Kuiper Belt is a group of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune.
    Pluto's potential new moons
    Pluto's potential new moons
    Recently, scientists discovered two additional moons orbiting Pluto, fueling support for its classification as a planet. Pluto was thought to have only one moon, Charon, which orbits 12,024 miles (19,351 km) from Pluto. The two newly discovered moons are much further away. One orbits 30,000 miles (48,000 km) from Pluto; the other 40,000 miles (64,000 km). Scientists are working to confirm the discovery. And the debate continues over whether Pluto is a planet or a Kuiper Belt object that happens to have three other objects in orbit around it.