Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pluto is not (is!) a planet

According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium and author of The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet, Pluto is not a planet.

Tyson's theories on the ball of gas floating somewhere around the orbit of Neptune have been a topic of debate in the scientific community (you can even buy "I Miss Pluto" T-shirts!). Tonight at 8PM EST, PBS will dive deeper into the saga of Pluto with the premier of “The Pluto Files”on NOVA.

Neil deGrasse Tyson gives Pluto an astronomy lesson. Gene Duncan ©Walt Disney World

Little known fact from the producer of the film, Terri Randall (who also happens to be my Aunt, love of sharing information runs in the family): Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde W. Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona. Around the same time, Walt Disney created his legendary character, Pluto the Dog. While it is not documented in the Disney archive, Tombaugh’s family (including his 97 year old wife) claim Walt called Clyde to ask him permission to name the dog after his planet. Many astronomers attribute Pluto the planet’s popularity to the popularity of Pluto the Dog.

So remember to tune in tonight (or TIVO, that is also acceptable) at 8PM to watch this star-studded (haha, sorry puns also run in the family) program.

Check your local listings for more details or visit http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/pluto/.

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