Since Astronomers started discovering larger objects past Neptune, Pluto as a planet has been discussed, reviewed and debated. The first IAU resolution adding three additional planets did not pass.
New definitions and requirements for Planets passed on August 24, 2006 by the International Astronomical Union. We now have eight Planets plus other Objects like Ceres and “Xena” have been redefined as Dwarf Planets, with Pluto as the proto-type of a new class of Trans-Neptunian Objects. More Dwarfs will be classified and listed in the near future. This means new Solar System Charts, Maps and Books with new information on the demotion of Pluto and should be in schools and stores by the year 2010. To me, Pluto has never stood out as a distinguished “Planet”. It was always a dim, cold and distant rock. Three billion miles away placed Pluto on the bottom of my planet viewing list. In my scope, this object is just a small white dot, like one of many Asteroids. Bright Venus and Jupiter or the yellow Saturn and the red Mars can be seen with naked eye. Small Mercury can be visually seen in the sky without equipment. Even Uranus and Neptune will stand out as a colored orb in the night sky through a scope.Larry mentions Pluto in our current newsletter, in the September 16 evening sky. Pluto is a possible search target for medium-to-large telescopes. “Throughout September,” says Astronomy, “Pluto lies less than 1 degree southwest of the magnitude 3.5 star Xi Serpentis. This convenient marker will make finding Pluto, which glows dimly at mag. 13.9, a little less challenging.”I am sure the debate will continue, but for now, I accept the new definitions and look forward to other topics and items discovered in the Cosmos the IAU will focus on …
Cosmic Engineering and the Movement of Stars
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