How Many Planets Are Named Dave?

by | Jul 14, 2020


Major Planets

There are eight major planets in our solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. None of these major planets are named Dave.

To be classified as a major planet a celestial body must do three things (source):

  1. It must orbit a star.
  2. It must be big enough to have enough gravity to force it into a spherical shape.
  3. It must be big enough that its gravity cleared away any other objects of a similar size near its orbit around the Sun.

Dwarf Planets

There are currently five planets classified as Dwarf Planets: Ceres, Pluto, Makemake, Haumea and Eris. Ceres lies in the asteroid belt and the other four are found way out in the Kuiper Belt.

Dwarf planets are massive enough to be round and orbit the sun but aren’t considered major planets because they don’t have enough gravity to have cleared their orbital path.

None of these dwarf planets are named Dave.

Minor Planets

A minor planet is a celestial object that orbits the sun, but lacks characteristics two and three of major planets: they aren’t massive enough for their gravity to make them round and they haven’t cleared away the other objects in their orbital path. Minor planets are also called asteroids.

According to NASA, there are currently 977,299 identified minor planets/asteroids in our solar system and they “range in size from Vesta—the largest at about 329 miles (530 kilometers) in diameter – to bodies that are less than 33 feet (10 meters) across. The total mass of all the asteroids combined is less than that of Earth’s Moon.” Thousands of new minor planets are identified each month.

The names of planets, dwarf planets, and minor planets are overseen by the International Astronomical Union, and the IAU not very strict when it comes to naming minor planets. Case-in-point: there are 23 minor planets named “Dave” such as Davebracy, Davebrin, Davehiggins, Davemckay, Daveturner, and Davewilliams, and 90 minor planets named “David” such as Davidlynch, Davidwoods, and Davidyoung.

There is also one minor planet named “Kieffer”!!!!!!! (It was identified in 1985 and named in honor of Hugh Kieffer, a geophysicist who specialized in the geology of Mars.)

It’s fun to search the database, try it out here: Minor Planet Center.


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