Discovery of yet another new Kuiper Belt Object (July 2016). From spaceflightinsider.com
One of my favorite books when I was a kid was National Geographic’s Picture Atlas of Our Universe. Originally published in 1980, it was a comprehensive review of the known universe at the time with lots of glossy pictures. The problem with this book today is that it’s sadly outdated. Let’s take Saturn for instance. In 1980 there were 16 moons of Saturn and, as of this writing in 2016, there’s now 62. Saturn didn’t create new moons, we just couldn’t find them. Way out in Saturn’s Lunar System, 60th out of 62, there’s a moon called Ymir. Discovered by Brett J. Gladman in 2000, for 3 years the satellite was called S/2000 S 1 before it was called by its official nomenclature. I’m not sure why it couldn’t be called (Ymir) right from the start. Once the scientist discovers the object, it gets a tentative name, then the parenthesis come off once it is official. Seems simple. The reason I mention this is because Saturn currently still has a half dozen unnamed moons.
Kuiper Belt Orbits also are not flat. From http://www.lunarplanner.com/asteroids.html
Now just like Saturn’s moons a generation ago, the Kuiper Belt currently is home to 4 verified Dwarf Planets, Pluto, Eris Makemake, and Haumea. (And don’t forget Sedna’s messed up orbit.) In the next decade we could discover 20, 50, 200 new Dwarf Planets. As the search expands for the elusive Planet Nine, which Science says probably exists due to some sort of advanced theoretical physics, we need to start naming these bad boys quicker. I’m sick of referring to exoplanets as 2007 OR¹°, when we could be calling it something cool, like Flark, or Zom, or even something simple, like Freckles.
Pluto: King of the Dwarf Planets in the Kuiper Belt (for now).
GIF: Image of Pluto through Time
So it's October of 2016
Let's go through some of the list of the rest of the trans-Neptunian planets awaiting certifications:
Salacia, Altjira, Varda, Manwe, (Buffy) & (Niku).
Notice something about the list of Largest known trans-Neptunian objects? Even Dwarf Planets smaller than the moon have their own moons. Haumea isn't even round and it has its own moons. Nothing in Our Universe (1980) even speculated about objects like that in the Kuiper Belt existing.