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Does Pluto Rotate?



Pluto DOES rotate.

More Info: Pluto does rotate, but it does it differently than other planets. Pluto sits furthest away from the sun, and has a smaller surface area than the moons in the region. Rotation, however, is one of its key characteristics. It sets Pluto apart from the other planets whose circular rotations take on a traditional solar orbit. It is crucial to understand what differentiates this planet from the others when considering rotation.

Common Orbital Characteristics

Orbital characteristics include the length of time it takes a planet to circle the sun and the plane it follows. Given the fact that Pluto sits furthest away from the sun than any other planet, it is not surprising that it takes longer to rotate. Pluto’s orbital period covers 248 Earth years. This means it take 248 years for it to complete one rotation.


Pluto’s orbit travels in a different fashion, as well. Most planets follow a flat pattern when rotating around the sun. Pluto moves at a slight incline, so instead of staying at the same level it sits lower on one side of the sun then on the other.

The most startling feature of the orbit pattern for the planet Pluto is direction. Pluto moves in the opposite direction of some of other solar bodies. While most of the planets are going counterclockwise, Pluto circles clockwise.


The difference in the rotation of Pluto does not make it less stable, however. The plants move in relation to one another, so if the bodies closest to it, especially the planet Neptune, maintain stable orbit, they keep Pluto moving along the same tract, as well. Over millions of years, these orbits may degrade enough, so eventually there will be a collision. For now, Pluto rotates a safe distance away from its only neighbor.



“King of the Ice Dwarfs :: NASA’s The Space Place.” NASA’s Space Place :: Home :: NASA’s The Space Place. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2012.

“Pluto.” Physics & Astronomy. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2012.

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