On this date in 2005 a discovery was made that would change what we know about the planets orbiting the sun in our solar system. On January 5, 2005 an object was discovered at the farthest reaches of our solar system that would cause astronomers to redefine the term “planet” and cause a controversial recount of the nine planets. The object was discovered by the astronomy team of Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David L. Rabinowitz using images made on October 21, 2003 at the Palomar Observatory in California. The team named the object Eris and it is the largest known dwarf planet in the solar system. Because of this discovery the planet Pluto was demoted to dwarf status and decreased the number of true planets circling the sun to eight. Subsequent discoveries of other dwarf planets increased by four. So for those keeping score at home, the number of planets circling the sun are now eight, not nine, and the number of dwarf planets, as of this posting, are five. Thank you.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org