How Many Planets Are There?

By Fred A. Shewmaker

In the solar system of which the earth upon which we live is a part, there are 9 known planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Are there other planets in the cosmos?

In his book: Gemink A Personal Account of Man’s Venture Into Space, Virgil “Gus” Grissom wrote, “There is a clarity, a brilliance to space that simply doesn’t exist on earth, even on a cloudless summer’s day in the Rockies, and from nowhere else can you realize so fully the majesty of our earth and be so awed at the thought that it’s only one of untold thousands of planets” (p. 108). Grissom was not alone in his belief that there are planets scattered all through the cosmos. This concept is taught, as fact, in many high school science courses and in most institutions of higher education.

In volume 18 of our 1979 World Book Encyclopedia along with the article: “Solar System” by A.G.W. Cameron, professor of Astronomy at the Howard College Observatory of Harvard University, there is an illustration to depict the shape of “The Milky Way.” The caption under that illustration reads, “Many stars have their own solar systems.” The truth is that neither professor Cameron nor any other astronomer in 1979 could point to a single planet outside our own solar system. If the caption was: Many scientists believe there are many other solar systems in the cosmos, it would have been true. As it stands, it merely passes off an opinion as being a solid fact.

The reason I know astronomers could not point to a planet outside of our solar system in 1979 is the fact that only recently have astronomers found an object outside our solar system which may be a planet. An Associated Press release carried in the Dover-New Philadelphia, Ohio Times Reporter (Nov. 11, 1987) reports: “Astronomers say they have found the most direct evidence yet of a planet-like object that orbits a star other than the sun.” It is described as: “a gaseous object, twice as hot as Venus and bigger than Jupiter.” It “is believed to orbit the white dwarf star Giclas 29-38, considered a nearby star at 270 trillion miles from earth, said Ben Zuckerman of the University of California, Los Angeles.” The release also suggested the object “could be the first discovery of a brown dwarf, a hypothesized body that is midway between a planet and a star.” This is, of course, if such things as “brown dwarfs” exist.

Knowing how many planets there are, really is not important, but for our children to know that college and university professors not always are careful to “tell it like it is” is important. Faith in God should not be discarded for the unfounded speculations of atheists, who have acquired a professorship in some educational institution, rejected God and made a god of science. According to Romans 1:18ff, they are not the first to reject God and make for themselves a god who is no God.

Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 19, p. 598
October 5, 1989