Sci-Friday: Looking at Pluto

Clark_dome Lowell Observatory Flagstaff AZ Pluto


I recently had a conversation with my friend Christian where we determined that kids interests are pretty streamlined.  Kids don’t have many hobbies or interests and once you begin school, there are really two types of kids.  There are dinosaur kids and there are space kids.

Christian was a dinosaur kid.  He knows more about dinosaurs than I’ll ever know.  We started talking about the stegosaurus, but my description was slightly off.  He was quick to correct me and say that I was thinking of another species, very similar but distinctly different than the stegosaurus.  I’d give you the species name, but I have already forgotten it!

I was a space kid.  My interest in dinosaurs was existent, but I grew up wanting to be an astronaut; a part of me still does.  The openness and adventure… exploring the final frontier!  All of my major reports in grade school were on Neil Armstrong and I remember spending hours playing a “Magic School Bus” space edition computer game on our family’s old Windows ’95.  But when you grow up with a love for space, stuff like the 2006 reclassification of Pluto can throw a wrench in your world view!

I was born in Flagstaff, AZ and toured the Lowell Observatory (pictured above) at a young age.  This is the location of where Pluto was discovered.  It would seem that my astronomical interests could be directly connected with Pluto and my birthplace.  But this love was definitely the closest I ever came to doing anything science related.

One thing is for sure though: when Pluto was reclassified, I did not receive a very good explanation.  By this time the focus of my interests had moved from sciences to arts and so I was not as in the loop as I was when I was 10!  But going from the 9 planets I grew up with to the now 8 planets seemed arbitrary.  Maybe some others from the millennial generation out there know what I’m talking about!

Well I have since learned more about the reclassification of Pluto.  About planets that once existed, but no longer do (as planets, anyway).  About the discovery of the Kuiper Belt.  And I have even read references to there being a large contingency of astronomers that never wanted Pluto to be named a planet to begin with, however I have had a very hard time finding the original source behind these claims (and not for lack of trying).

But I think this video (below) does a great job of summing up why Pluto isn’t a planet and I only wish I had it when the news first came out!

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