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Across the Universe: Tradition… and Pluto — 2 Comments

  1. On the July 10 episode of Science Friday on NPR, Alan Stern, the Principal Investigator for NASA’s New Horizon mission kept referring to Pluto as a planet. When challenged about this reference by the radio program’s host, Ira Flato, Stern said of course Pluto is a planet. He basically said Pluto was reclassified by bunch of astronomers who study stars and not planetary scientist who know about planets. I believe he also said that if one asked any planetary scientist they would tell you Pluto is a planet.

    You point out the IAU’s Division III of planetary scientists did have input.

    The book Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? states that after the vote was made to accept the designations of classical planet, dwarf planet (into which Pluto fit), and asteroid some American planetary scientists who do not participate in the IAU and/or did not attend its General Assembly felt Pluto was demoted.

    With the great excitement of being able to explore a world so far from us, the emotional residua from reclassifying Pluto remains.

  2. Pingback: Across the Universe: Planetary Counsels - The Catholic Astronomer

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