Log in

No account? Create an account

This Day in History, 2006: Pluto Demoted

Exactly one year ago today, the International Astronomical Union, at their General Assembly in Prague, voted to demote Pluto from planet to dwarf planet.

(An excellent post about the public's reaction since can be found at The Enduring Power of Pluto.)


Ah, a black day in history :-)
Semantics aside, Pluto is still a planet and I predict the IAU will recognize it as such at their meeting after the next one, when they will have data from New Horizons to support what is evident to all but Neal de Grasse Tyson and his bunch of hoodlums.
"Hoodlums"? :-)

Tyson's heart is in the right place, even if he is misguided.
I'm struggling with this as my son is old enough to start learning about the planets and stuff. (Not rigorously, but picture books and the like.) Do I tell him that his book is wrong, or that the Justin Roberts song "Nine Planets" is wrong, and there's only eight? Do I tell him about the debate? It's all too confusing for a four-year-old.
When I read a book about the planets to my daughter's kindergarten class last year, when the book (and I) referred to Pluto and a planet, it sparked a debate among the five year olds, many of whom were aware of the misruling by the IAU.
It'll be even more confusing once Pluto, Eris, and Ceres get recognized as planets.
My six year old knows all about the controversy. Last week, he went to a camp that focused on astronomy, and one day after camp he made up a protest sign (with creative spelling) that read: Pluto Ought to be a Planet.

His four year old sister doesn't have quite as sophisticated a grasp, but she does know that Pluto is a "little planet" and that some people disagree on what it should be called.
They killed Pluto! those bastards!
Thanks for posting the link to my blog entry on "The Enduring Power of Pluto."

I have a four-year-old nephew, and I have been teaching him that Pluto is a planet though a small one, and that Eris is a planet as well, but does not appear in most of the books because it was only recently discovered. As soon as the IAU made its fiasco of a decision, I went out and bought him two books on the solar system that include Pluto. Obviously, I'm biased, but my recommendation is to keep using the books and songs with nine planets and then say that more have been discovered since the book was written and that we're still learning just what they are because they are very small and very far away. Kids can understand that, and they can understand that sometimes different people view things in different ways. They can also understand that we've sent a robotic ship to take pictures of Pluto and that we'll know a lot more about it when we get those pictures in eight years.

December 2016

Powered by LiveJournal.com