If you were in school before 2006, you may remember learning about the solar system. There were 9 planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Then the tables turned and Pluto was no longer considered a planet, but a dwarf planet.

Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh on Feb 18,1930. Little was known about the tiny planet due to the extreme distance from the Earth.  NASA started a project in 2006 that would make history.

Thanks to the New Horizons project, Pluto is now a trending topic on social media. On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft (an instrument that is the size of a piano) passed by the planet of Pluto. It’ll take 16 months for all the data to come back to Earth. But each little snippet of new data is a huge find for scientists, unlocking new secrets of the cold planet.

Here’s some interesting facts about Pluto:

Here’s a visual representation of the size of Pluto compared to the Earth. Pluto could fit in between Greenville, NC and Midland, TX! How extraordinary!

Added bonus: Yesterday (July 16, 1965) was the 50th anniversary of the Mariner 4 which explored Mars. Today (July 17, 1969) is the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

What a week for astronomers and space enthusiasts alike! Who knows what’s possible in the future. For now I’ll keep my head in the clouds and reach for the stars.

~ Meteorologist Candice Boling

{Information and Pictures courtesy of NASA.gov}

To see more photos visit an interactive photo gallery here: http://interactives.wnct.com/photomojo/gallery/36217/1/new-horizons-mission-to-pluto/new-horizons-spacecraft-mission-to-pluto/