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late Old English planete, from Old French planete (Modern French planète), from Late Latin planeta, from Greek planetes, from (asteres) planetai "wandering (stars)," from planasthai "to wander," of unknown origin, possibly from PIE *pele- (2) "flat, to spread" on notion of "spread out." So called because they have apparent motion, unlike the "fixed" stars. Originally including also the moon and sun; modern scientific sense of "world that orbits a star" is from 1630s.
A large celestial body, smaller than a star but larger than an asteroid, that does not produce its own light but is illuminated by light from the star around which it revolves. In our solar system there are nine known planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Because of Pluto's small size—about two-thirds the diameter of Earth's moon—and its unusual orbit, many astronomers believe it should actually be classed as a Kuiper belt object rather than a planet. A planetlike body with more than about ten times the mass of Jupiter would be considered a brown dwarf rather than a planet. See also extrasolar planet, inner planet, outer planet.
An object in orbit around a star. A planet does not give off its own light; rather, it shines by reflecting sunlight. Planets close to the sun are rocky. Those farther out consist mostly of gases and liquids.
Note: There are nine major planets, including the Earth, in orbit around our sun, along with many asteroids. (See solar system.)
Note: Scientists have discovered evidence for the existence of many planets that circle other stars.