Pluto Was Named By An 11-Year-Old Girl

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An 11-year-old girl from Oxford, England is responsible for naming Pluto. Venetia Burney suggested the name to her grandfather after being inspired by the name of the Roman god of the underworld. Her grandfather, Falconer Madan, was the Librarian of the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford. He was so well-connected that he was able to pass Burney's suggestion along to the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, where then-unnamed Pluto was discovered. The scientists at Lowell believed Pluto to be a fitting name, since the first two letters are the initials of Percival Lowell, the founder of the observatory. Pluto was officially named in 1930. Watch the videos below to learn more about the dwarf planet Pluto.


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Why Pluto Was Named By An 11-Year-Old Girl

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. The name for Pluto was suggested by 11-year-old Venetia Burney of Oxford, England. 00:00

  2. The Disney character Pluto first appeared the same year the name Pluto was suggested for the dwarf planet—but the dog was named Rover at the time. 00:25

  3. During voting for the name of the new dwarf planet, "Pluto" was the unanimous choice. 03:49

An Animated Tour of Pluto

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How Long Does It Take To Get To Pluto?

It's more than 5 billion kilometers away from Earth.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Currently, Pluto is more than 5 billion kilometers away from Earth. 00:05

  2. At its perihelion (the closest point to the sun in a planet or comet's orbit), Pluto is only 4.4 billion kilometers away. 00:36

  3. The Pioneer spacecraft completed the journey to Pluto in about 11 years. 02:43

  4. It would take roughly 9-12 years to reach Pluto, but a lighter, faster spacecraft would not be able to capable to gather much data. 03:29