But does that make Pluto a non-planet? Even before Pluto was discovered, the solar system was divided into two classes of planets: the rocky worlds like Earth, and the gas giants beyond. These discoveries will shift our view of the universe the way Galileo and Copernicus shifted it four centuries ago.
In the 17th century, the world came to understand that Earth was not the center of the universe. In the 21st century, we will come to understand that Earth provides just one template for the way the cosmos builds planets — and not even the most common template. But the new view is four terrestrial planets, four gas giants and hundreds of Plutos," planetary scientist Alan Stern said. It's the Earthlike planets that are the misfits. Some people may find it difficult to handle a planetary paradigm shift, but shift happens, whether we like it or not.
For example, the conventional wisdom once held that very few planets existed in the universe. At the time that Pluto was discovered, Sir Arthur Eddington estimated that only one star system out of million had the right conditions to produce planets. Arthur Compton, one of the foremost American physicists of the day, declared that "a planet is a very rare occurrence. Another star has a Jupiter-scale planet that is three times farther away than Pluto is from the sun.
The evidence emerging from the hunt for extrasolar planets would argue for going with a wide-ranging definition of planethood, based on physical properties. On the other hand.
Well, it has a cool name. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium and the author of "The Pluto Files," thinks people grew up remembering Pluto because of its association with the Disney cartoon dog. The dog was named after the planet, not the other way around. Plutonium also is named after Pluto.
Boyle thinks it's not the dog but the underdog, that Pluto is "the oddball runt of the planetary litter. It needs to eat more and bulk up to be like the other planets. It's the weird uncle with the squirting lapel flower. The controversy over Pluto's demotion kicked into overdrive when another, bigger dwarf planet called Eris was discovered in Really, though, the whole affair does show how the world changes and how science adjusts to those changes.
Dwarf planets are planets, too. The main problem is that Pluto has enjoyed popularity. Boyle puts up a good battlefront in the case for Pluto, considering every angle and leaving no scientific mind undisturbed. What the scientific community could agree upon was that Pluto was both a planet and not a planet at the same time. The solution was to reclassify, hoping to quell the problem.
Pluto debate is about more than one little world - Technology & science - Space | NBC News
A must read. The International Astronomical Union's decision to downgrade Pluto's status from a planet is the book's jumping-off point, from which Boyle backtracks to relate the history of Pluto's discovery and naming, the discovery of its moon, its scientific features, and all the developments of its scientific study, including developments in the technology of telescopes and space missions.
The personal element of the story adds spice to the narrative, with astronomers arguing over Pluto's identity and the public weighing in with their own personal attachment to Pluto as a planet.
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The book concludes with an appendix on what to tell your kids about planets. Sci-Tech Book News When the International Astronomical Union voted in to evict Pluto from the roster of planets in our solar system, little did they expect the public outcry that would arise.
Review: The Case for Pluto
After its discovery in , the icy rock formerly known as Planet X was embraced by the public imagination, partly due to its status as ""the oddball of the solar system""; no doubt having Walt Disney name a cartoon dog after it also helped. But as astronomers learned more about the solar system and the distant Kuiper Belt at its fringes, they realized that Pluto, with its lopsided spin and strangely tilted orbit was very special indeed.
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Now astronomers have identified at least five dwarf planets, or ""mini-worlds,"" orbiting our Sun. When the New Horizons spacecraft reaches Pluto in , we'll know more about this ""underdog of the solar system. Publishers Weekly, September 14, show more. Rating details. Book ratings by Goodreads.