The Solar System
Current Planetary Orbital Positions
Jupiterís Galilean moons (S&T)
Planets and Moons to scale
Simple Stats - Extended Stats



The Sun - SOL
The Sun
The Sun
Mercury
Mercury
Mercury
Venus
Venus
Venus
Earth
Earth
Mars
Mars
Mars
Asteroids
The Asteroid Belt
Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter
Saturn
Saturn
Saturn
Uranus
Uranus
Uranus
Neptune
Neptune
Neptune
Pluto
Pluto
Pluto



 - planet orbits -



 - planet sizes -



Pluton... bah!

this is another example of authority (in this case, science) being too rigid for the universe or realm in which it operates, or presides - plainly spoken: they don't know what they're talking about so much as they know that they should be probably talking about all this stuff in categories, to make it easier to understand n classify - the problem here is, i think, the question of authority itself - science did not invent the universe, or the planet, yet it seems to be of the mind that there must be very rigid laws defining it, and is dutiful in this endeavor, beyond the scope of reason... or, often, possibility; thus, is often at a loss

the classic planet: we think of something that was formed with the early solar system, those that survived the initial impacts n chaos (4 inner rocky worlds n 4 outer gas giants; an asteroid belt separates the well defined regions, like sawdust) - yet we only have theories to imagine this original formation: well reasoned theories, but ultimately unprovable - like evolution, for absolute certainty, we'll hafta wait until someone invents a time machine - with species, genetics draws a line for us: the Mule and Liger are sterile, thus hybrids - in astronomy, there is no natural selection, only gravity: matter floats n crashes into each other, elegant dancing; beyond that we're on our own

to my mind, ceres is a planet if it is round (as there is a solid gravity question here, which is defining to all planetary formation, so it gets probably a deciding vote in the definition of a planet), even if it is in the asteroid belt; and there's a handfulla others which almost match this category, as well... the closer you look into it, the blurrier the distinctions become: thus, it is a new catregory

but charon is a moon of pluto - since 1975, we've had a new concept: the binary planet - plus, they are in geosynchronous orbit with each other, they share geosynchronicity (as our moon only ever shows us one face, they do this to each other) - so, ok, they're equally qualified for whatever category they fall into together - but the only reason why we discovered em so early is cuz they're so big n bright (relative to the other denizens of our darker outermost reaches, which even the hubble cant make out more than a few blurry pixels) and only slightly smaller than our moon, which is about the size of any other main moon of any other planet in the solar system - now, those, no one has any problem with callin em moons - satellite is an over-general term which i will not confuse u with any further

jupiter has 4 main moons; and the other 3 gas giants i think about one each (saturn has titan, neptune has triton), and each with a smattering of mostly what i prefer to call moonlets, decreasing in size, until they're no longer round, which i have a problem with calling moons, except that they are an object orbiting a body which has been previously classified as a planet - mars' only 2 moons are just silly tho, very tiny n roughly potato shaped - i don't object to them being named, just dont pretend there'll ever be domed cities on em if the gravity is less than 1% earth and it is itself entirely no bigger than, say, manhattan or hawaii

pluton is a stupid name - but has character - n it satisfies those who might say not everything we encounter in this class would qualify as an ice dwarf, not being made of ice, entirely - for the sake of argument, thinking ahead, the realm of possibility - i am operating under the presumption that all bodies, round or not, beyond the gas giants, are mostly ice, with a little rock, formed from the kuiper belt n oort cloud, being related to comets, formed from material leftover after the formation of the solar system, long after; or perhaps from material which was never considered, but somehow managed to orbit our star - this is the presumption that leads many to proclaim that pluto is not a planet, n then to ask what is a planet - for looking smart, while doing all that, they get extra credit

i thought i had it settled (rock dwarfs, gas giants, ice dwarfs), but then they threw in ceres, vesta n the like - untold thousands of potentially unameable places in just the asteroid belt between mars n jupiter - bah - fine, tho: if it's round, however bouncy yer neighborhood, i think everyone can get behind that it's a planet, (long as u remember that being too rigid in your definitions makes you a bad scientist) - but pluton makes me think of some spooky subatomic particle, like the charmed quark - the lepton, the graviton, the muon - plutoid, now that has possibilities - pluto is the roman god of the underworld, or something - jupiter being the god of wine, or harems, it's 4 major moons are known as the jovians (io, ganymede, europa n calysto) - if someone can point to mythology n show me some other classical mentioning of a pluton, those who hung out in the underworld - but then what about the asteroid belt?

pluton names all other minor planets after pluto, saying it's pluto-like, or plutoesque - then we'll hafta compare em all to pluto n decide on an individual basis - bah again - but hey, what about "minor planets" - ok, technically, earth is a minor planet, along with mercury, venus n mars - but only by comparison to the gas giants - for semantics, we ask a buncha booksmart department heads to please give us guidelines - but wait, we din ask em; they sed we needed this thing which they were gonna make us wait for while they deliberated to come up with the perfect one that made the most sense n pissed off the fewest or least important people - bah again

it is what it is - a round ball of rock n ice, orbiting our star so very far away, from the outer reaches of our solar system (a region increasing incrementally in size with every advancement in resolution) n not on the same plane as "classic planets" - it's not a diet planet, it's not made of nutrasweet - it's a planet if its round - yet it is also only accidentally round, because of gravity - it was not formed with the pre-intention of being a full fledged world around which parent star it may someday thrive - it's an accident, a bastard, a rogue world which shows up at occasional picnics n some disparage for helping itself to an ice cold beer - let it be, let it own itself - or is that too mucha laid back concept for scientists to wrap their heads around ?

the logic that "if a body's gravity is greater than it's mass, (therefore, making it round), means it's a planet" is sound for this part of the issue, anyways - but that means that ceres is a planet, and relatively similar objects like pallas, juno n vesta, being potato shaped, are disqualified - how about a less rigid approach - minor planets - helps bridge the gap between our capacity and the real universe, where few dotted lines actually exist? pallas, juno n vesta can be "sub-minor planets" by those who require specific definitions for things




Spacedog Classification of Planets
you draw a line between stars n planets
- a star is on fire, a planet is not -
but what's the definition of a planet ?
that's where the lines begin to blur
Planets and Moons to scale
how big is it, what's it made of, what's its orbit ?
was it formed early in the System's development ?
or is it made up of material leftover, and long after ?
is it big enough to be called a place, and thus named ?

Gas Giants
Half Planet, Half Star
probably no solid surface
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
Most Star Systems have more than one star - this did not occur in the formation of our Solar System, however - the excess material thus formed four Gas Giants instead of a Red Dwarf or second Sun.

Rock Worlds
The "Moons" of a Star
Potentially Habitable ?
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
places you might expect an Enterprise away team to land on - these are the classic "Planets" one has in mind while imagining colonizing outer space - this is a place a visiting alien might be from - Rigel 12

Minor Planets
Dwarf Worlds?


Rock Dwarfs
Giant Asteroids
Rogue Bodies
Ice Dwarfs
Large Kuiper Belt Objects
Mostly Rock & Ice
Planetoids
Enough material mass
gravity to be Spherical
Ceres
Pluto & Charon,
Xena, etc...?
Sub Planetoids
oblong, potato shaped
Pallas, Juno, Vesta
Nix & Hydra

Floatsam
stray material

Asteroids
rarely spherical

Comets
often spherical