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Meet The Dwarfs

Here is a playful rendition of these pals of Pluto in order of size:

  • ERIS - Virtual twin in size to Pluto, this big gun's orbit averages twice as far away from the sun as Pluto's. Lately Eris (2314-2338 km) is considered slightly smaller than Pluto (2368 km); discoverer Mike Brown (of How I Killed Pluto fame) mentions this on his star planet's Wikipedia entry, but with the caveat that "knowledge of which is bigger will be unknown" until New Horizons visits Pluto in July 2015. (UPDATE July 13, 2015: New Horizon's LORRI instrument has determined Pluto is 2370 km, and so is now considered larger than Eris, even with any margin of error.) But enough dwarf-planet waistline oneupsmanship; read my online article on Eris's meaning for astrologers.
  • MAKEMAKE - The third-largest Dwarf Planet in the Kuiper Belt, with a diameter around 1500 km, finally revealed it's got a buddy out there, a small moon, in April 2016. Read my online article on Makemake from the Nov./Dec. 2014 issue of the Astrological Journal, which reveals some shocking and surprising sides to this odd little giant at the edge of Kuiper space.
  • HAUMEA - Fourth largest Dwarf Planet in the Kuiper Belt, with two known moons, Hi'iaka and Namaka. Haumea is very elongated and shaped somewhat like a football, due to a cataclysmic impact it suffered long ago which blasted material off its surface, creating the group of smaller Kuipers called the Haumea Collisional family. Haumea has never been the same since.
  • 2007 OR10 - Yet another large Dwarf Planet candidate, guestimated to be between 1000-1500 km, with no moon. Largest object in solar system to lack a permanent name. Someone who shall remain nameless himself, promised to name OR10, but that was in 2011. Yes, that's him.
  • QUAOAR - Another big fella, estimated to be 1105-1115 km through the waist. Quaoar has one moon called Weywot. "Wait, what?" Yes, Weywot. "Wait, what???" Oh nevermind....
  • SEDNA - This planetoid is around 1000 km in size and has such an oblong orbit that it takes 11,400 years to orbit our sun! Sedna is approaching perihelion (closest approach) in the coming years, and is actually traveling faster along the ecliptic than Eris (which is around aphelion or its farthest distance from the sun). Read my Sedna article that appeared in The Mountain Astrologer's Feb./March 2015 issue.
  • ORCUS - This large ~917-km big boy has a moon called Vanth, and orbits just slightly closer to the sun than Pluto, completing a solar orbit one year earlier than Pluto. Orcus apparently really likes to one-up Pluto. Another fun fact: when Vanth addresses its parent body, it says "Orcuth." It's so cute.
  • VARUNA - Relatively large at 757-1003 km, this moonless world orbits just inside Haumea's orbit, completing its trip around the sun just two years sooner than its bigger neighbor.
  • 2002 AW197 - Unnamed but looking for love, this medium-sized planetoid is between 650-750 km through the middle, with no moon to speak of. One of Mike Brown's planets, he didn't even come up with a silly nickname - what's up with that?
  • IXION - Like Orcus, Ixion orbits around Pluto's neighborhood, except it travels on the outside of Pluto's path. Ixion is smaller (650 km give or take a few hundred kilometers) but nonetheless feisty, in true Pluto fashion.
  • 2002 TX300 - This little guy is admittedly small (a recent star occultation yielded a size of 286 km) but it's perhaps one of the shiniest objects in the solar system, which made it seem bigger (before that occultation). TX300 is also the largest member of the Haumea Collisional Family, after Haumea itself, and is here because Mama Haumea would not consent to appear unless her big baby was also included. What can you do.

To get the full story on what these objects signify, order MORE PLUTOS, available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you're still unconvinced, preview a few chapters of the book; see the links in the right column to read PDFs on Eris, Makemake, and Sedna.

© 2014-15 Sue Kientz

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