what is the difference between a moon and a planet?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by SwedishFish, Jul 14, 2003.

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  1. SwedishFish Conspirator Registered Senior Member

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    this is a subject i know nothing about. someone please enlighten me. why is a moon not a planet?
     
  2. Zxanthaxzantheus On a posting binge. Registered Senior Member

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    A planet is a planet becuase it orbits a star.
    A moon is a moon becuase it orbits a planet.

    That simple. I doubt theres any depthy explanation as to why
     
  3. string theorist Registered Member

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    zxanth's very correct. and it doesn't get any simpler...:)
     
  4. SwedishFish Conspirator Registered Senior Member

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    so they're really all big rocks? i don't think moons get enough respect.

    does it strike anyone else as odd that there are these giant perfectly spherical rocks flying around in perfect orbit? i never thought of it that way before but it is mindboggling.
     
  5. spookz Banned Banned

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    yah
    i always wonder when i jump up why i tend to come down. bummer!
     
  6. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    They aren't perfectly spherical, and they don't fly around in perfect circular orbits. And they aren't all rocky, either.
     
  7. 2inquisitive The Devil is in the details Registered Senior Member

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    Not all moons are rocky either. Europa, one of Jupiter's moons,
    is completely covered in water ice, with crisscrossing tracks or
    cracks in the ice. Many scientist believe there may be a vast
    liquid water ocean under the ice, in which case there is the
    possibility of life in the ocean.
     
  8. Zxanthaxzantheus On a posting binge. Registered Senior Member

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    and the Moon Titan has huge seas of natural gas!

    I bet Enron would LOVE to get thier hands on that Moon..
     
  9. SwedishFish Conspirator Registered Senior Member

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    oh poo in know that, i'm just saying. the universe is still an amazing thing to lay people like myself.
     
  10. sargentlard Save the whales motherfucker Valued Senior Member

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    It was a debate for a while to name Pluto a moon because it has many characteristics of one but ultimatly they decided to keep it a planet because uh..well...it has a moon. Tritan, Pluto's moon, is the coldest known place in our solar system.
     
  11. string theorist Registered Member

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    I thought titana was the coldest...
     
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    So the question becomes:

    So then, what is the difference between a planet and an asteroid? They both orbit stars.

    I'll grant the distinction between a planet and a comet. Cometary orbits are so eccentric that they're qualitatively different. But asteroids orbit in a more-or-less planetary manner. They're just small.
     
  13. Clockwood You Forgot Poland Registered Senior Member

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    Several large moons are bigger than the smallest 2 planets. (3 planets if you include that new one)
     
  14. orange Registered Senior Member

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  15. ElectricFetus I'm just going for a walk... Valued Senior Member

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    … and a natural body that orbits a moon is a moonlit?

    Pluto and Charon orbit each other and some have assume them as a dual planet system with Pluto being the bigger of the to.
     
  16. Zxanthaxzantheus On a posting binge. Registered Senior Member

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    it would be called a Satelite.

    Actualy, anything that orbits Anything else is a satelite.. the earth is a satelite of the sun, the sun is a satelite of the galactic core.. (the big black hole in the middle of the milkyway)

    Anyone else think otherwise?
     
  17. eburacum45 Valued Senior Member

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    There is a case for the distinction in kind between moons and planets-
    planets orbit stars, moons orbit planet- there is no known case of a moon having a natural satellite of its own; the distinction in this case is orbital based rather than size based.

    In fact all bodies in space are on a more or less sliding scale, mass wise-
    meteoroids blur into meteors blur into asteroids blur into planetoids blur into planets blur into brown dwarfs blur into red dwarfs blur into orange, yellow dwarfs, subgiants, giants, hypergiants;
    each size grouping has many different compositions, but these compositions are determined by the history of the object and can be considered separately.
    __________________
    SF worldbuilding at
    http://www.orionsarm.com/main.html
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Planet vs. Asteroid

    Nobody ever spoke to my question about what defines the difference between a planet and an asteroid.
     
  19. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    If a planet orbits a star and a moon orbits a planet...
    (No, I am not going to ask what orbits a moon)
    Why do people say that Pluto is not a planet, but a moon?

    Is there an actual scientific debate on this, or are these just people that are listening to crackpots?
     
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Fraggle Rocker:

    A planet is bigger than an asteroid. That's the only difference, I think.


    one_raven:

    <i>Why do people say that Pluto is not a planet, but a moon?</i>

    Who says that?
     
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