22 June 2015 News

First “movie” of dancing Pluto

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has offered up yet another reminder of how little we still know about our own solar system – by revealing the strange “dance” that Pluto, the dwarf planet, does with its largest moon.

What’s interesting about the animation, as compiled via New Horizons’ color photos, is that Pluto and its moon, Charon, appear to orbit a central point, instead of Charon simply orbiting Pluto. NASA is now referring to this arrangement as a “double planet.”

Pluto, of course, had been referred to as the ninth planet from the Sun when it was first discovered. It was demoted to the status of dwarf planet in 2006, after further research of the solar system revealed that there are several large, icy bodies in its outer reaches, and Pluto isn’t even the largest.

Back in 2006, the Internet had reacted with humorous dismay at Pluto’s demotion, resulting in various memes. Here’s a good round-up of some of them – including reactions to Pluto’s reclassification as a dwarf planet.

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