The former planet formerly known as Pluto

Friday, January 30, 2009

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union inflamed the nation when it revoked Pluto’s planetary status. When the former planet, formerly known as Pluto got downgraded, Americans overwhelmingly rallied to its defense. Now called a Plutoid, it forever has a place, if not in the planetary hierarchy, in Americans' hearts. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was at the frontline of Pluto’s reclassification and he’s captured, what he calls the “demotion commotion” in a new book: The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet.

Want to hear more from Neil deGrasse Tyson? Watch him on Nova's scienceNOW (a production of our partners WGBH) and if you live in New York City, he is lecturing at the 92nd Street Y.


Neil deGrasse Tyson

Comments [1]

Laurel Kornfeld

Tyson is wrong about Pluto. Only four percent of the International Astronomical Union voted on the demotion, and most of those are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately opposed in a formal petition by an equal number of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. This debate is still very much ongoing. The term "plutoids" is almost universally disliked and likely to disappear into oblivion.

Meanwhile, please do not accept the dictate of this tiny percent of the IAU as fact. It's not. Pluto is not a "former planet." It is a planet.

Jan. 31 2009 01:18 AM

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