Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Pluto Files

Pluto is no longer considered a planet (old news, I know).

Apparently, school age children have taken serious umbrage with this change.

The Pluto Files is a collection of letters from school age children who miss seeing Pluto among the other planets.

From the link:

"It's not easy being a public enemy," writes Neil deGrasse Tyson in his book The Pluto Files. When Neil's museum grouped Pluto not among the planets but rather with icy comets in an obscure region called the Kuiper Belt, he heard from thousands of outraged Pluto defenders. It's tough being called a heartless Pluto-hater, particularly by a dismayed eight-year-old. Below, peruse a few of the letters elementary schoolkids sent Neil, and see how their tone shifted over the years, as the public slowly came to accept Pluto's fall from planethood.—Susan K. Lewis

My favorite letter was one from Madeline, dated Sept 2006.

Power to the planet Pluto, Madeline. Power to the planet.

(Since I now have 2 posts collected because of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, I guess this means I have to become a card carrying member of his fan club. )

(From PBS, Nova)

1 comment:

Laurel Kornfeld said...

Actually, Pluto IS still considered a planet by many astronomers. It is important to note that Tyson has distanced himself from the controversial 2006 IAU decision, which he himself admits is flawed. At this point, he even admits that the debate is not over, that it might be too early in the study of planetary scientists for anyone to be defining what a planet is in the first place. This was pretty much his message at the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate, which he moderated at the American Museum of Natural History on March 10, 2009.

Significantly, only four percent of the IAU voted on Pluto's demotion, and most are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately rejected by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto.

This debate is far from over. For another perspective, anyone interested in this topic should read "Is Pluto A Planet" by Dr. David Weintraub and "The Case for Pluto" by Alan Boyle. Or visit my Pluto Blog at