Disturbing the Universe

David L Clements, science and science fiction

The history of planet and exoplanet discoveries


A rather wonderful animated gif by Hugh Osborn showing the history of planet and exoplanet detections over 265 years. Hat tip to @astrokatie for linking to it on twitter.

Planet Discoveries

One thing that clearly drops out of the early years of this gif (and by early I mean pre-1990) is the difference between Pluto and all the other planets. Just one more reason why Pluto is much better classified as a minor planet.

Apologies to USians out there who want to keep Pluto as it’s the only planet in the Solar System discovered by a USian. The great achievements since then on exoplanets, including Kepler which over the last few years has found hundreds of exoplanets, really does make up for the loss of Pluto.

ETA: Colours relate to different detection methods: dark blue = Solar System; light blue = radial velocity; maroon = direct imaging; orange = microlensing; green = transit (the method used by Kepler, for example).

Author: davecl

Astronomy, science, science fiction

2 thoughts on “The history of planet and exoplanet discoveries

  1. Once a planet, *always* a planet, that is my motto! (Grumble, moan, gnash…)

    Cool gif. Can one slow it down or freeze it?

    Would be nice to have a simple explanation for the color, size, etc without needing to follow the link to his site.

  2. You can get a lot more information on exoplanets here:


    I suspect it’s where the initial figures for the animated gif came from.

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