Makemake was discovered on 31st March 2005 by a team of astronomers led by Michael Brown using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory. Makemake is 7.77 billion kilometres (5 billion miles) from the Sun and takes 308.88 years to complete each orbit.

The name Makemake (pronounced ˈmɑkeˈmɑke, with emphasis on the e as in 'weed') is named after a creator god of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Makemake was the creator of humanity, the god of fertility and the chief god of the Tangata manu or bird-man cult.

Makemake was formally classified as a dwarf planet and a plutoid (trans-neptunian dwarf planet) in July 2008. At that date there were four known dwarf planets - Ceres, Eris, Makemake and Pluto. Three of these were plutoids - Eris, Makemake and Pluto. A plutoid has an orbit around the Sun at a semi-major axis greater than that of Neptune.

Makemake has a diameter of 1300-1900 kilometres, making it roughly one tenth the diameter of Earth and one third the diameter of the Moon. It has an eliptical orbit which varies between 45.791AU and 53.074AU and is currently about 52AU away from the Sun. Each astronomical unit (AU) is a unit of length approximately equal to the distance from the Earth to the Sun. It takes 6 hours for light from the Sun to reach MakeMake.

Makemake's provisional designation in astronomy is 2005 FY9 and minor planet number 136472.

New moon discovered

Image Credits

Artist's impression of Makemake based on Image of Mimas PIA08172 courtesy of NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute.

Image of The Far Side of The Moon PIA00225 courtesy of NASA / JPL-Caltech.

Image of Earth AS17-148-22730 courtesy of Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.

Text Credits

Rapa Nui Mythology (mythology)

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