The Solar System The Inner Planets The Outer Planets Inner and Outer Planets Compared Solar System Formation Table of Planets Solar System's Largest Objects Space A to Z Your Weight in Space Stars Galaxies The Milky Way
The Inner Planets The Sun Mercury Venus Earth Mars
The Outer Planets The Moon Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Dwarf Planets Ceres Pluto Huamea Makemake Eris Comets Small BODIES Halley Hale-Bopp Shoemaker-Levy Asteroids Meteors
Exploring Space The Space Shuttle Voyager Space Missions List Astronomy Famous Astronomers History of Astronomy Hubble Space Telescope James Webb Telescope
Space A to Z Your Weight in Space Useful Links Contact Us Bob the Alien on Facebook Bob the Alien on Twitter
Pluto Menu  

Pluto's Moons

One thing that every planet needs is companionship. Pluto, a dwarf planet located far from the Sun, is far from lonely thanks to its five moons: Charon, Hydra, Nix, Kerberos, and Styx. Charon, the largest of these moons, has a diameter of 1,212 kilometres (753 miles) — about half that of Pluto's 2,376 km (1,476 miles). Charon is also situated close to Pluto at an average distance of just 19,596 km (12,176 miles). Compare this to Earth's moon which is 384,400 km (238850 miles) away from Earth. Pluto and Charon also orbit around a shared centre of gravity situated in between the two objects. This, combined with the fact that they are so close in size and in distance to each other, leads some astronomers to consider them to be a double dwarf planet system.

Charon, one of Pluto's moons, from the New Horizons spacecraft (Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

The other four moons - Hydra, Nix, Kerberos, and Styx - are significantly smaller. Hydra and Nix were the first to be found in 2005, while Kerberos was discovered in 2011 and Styx in 2012. The moons get their name from Greek mythology. Pluto is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Hades, ruler of the Underworld. Its moon Hydra is named after a mythological serpent monster with many heads that guards the entrance to the Underworld. Nix (spelled Nyx in Greek mythology) is the goddess of the night, Kerberos (or Cerberus in mythology) is a three-headed dog that guards the gates to the Underworld. Styx is a river, or boundary between Earth and the Underworld. Seems like quite a pleasant family!

In 2015, the New Horizons space probe provided a closer look at Pluto and its moons, flying by them to obtain data and capture detailed new images of these fasincating little worlds in their quiet corner of the Solar System.

List of Pluto's Moons

Name of Moon Diameter Orbital Distance Length of Orbit Discovered Discoverer
Charon 1,212 km
753 miles
19,596 km
12,176 miles
6 days and 4 hours 1978 James W. Christy
Styx 16 km (16 x 9 x 8 km)
10 miles
42,650 km
26,501 miles
20 days and 2 hours 2012 Mark Robert Showalter and team
Nix 48 km (48 x 33 x 30 km)
30 miles
48,690 km
30,255 miles
24 days and 21 hours 2005 Pluto Companion Search Team
Kerberos 19 km (19 x 10 x 9 km)
12 miles
57,780 km
35,903 miles
32 days and 4 hours 2011 Mark Robert Showalter and team
Hydra 50 km (50 x 36 x 32 km)
31 miles
64,740 km
40,227 miles
38 days and 5 hours 2005 Pluto Companion Search Team
Twitter X logo Facebook logo Email icon
© 2000 - 2024 SULTANA BARBECUE