Originally created 02/17/99

Pluto back in last place



Pluto has returned to its traditional spot as the planet farthest from our sun.

While normally the most distant planet, Pluto's odd orbit periodically brings it inside Neptune's orbit, making that planet the farthest from the sun. That last occurred on Feb. 7, 1979.

But Pluto crossed Neptune's orbit at 5:08 a.m. last Thursday to regain its distant position, according to NASA. Because it takes Pluto 248 years to circle the sun, it will remain the farthest planet for the next 228 years.

The Paris-based International Astronomical Union recently reaffirmed Pluto's standing as the smallest planet, despite suggestions that it should be reclassified because of its small size.