You've Been Plutoed

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium and author of The Pluto Files, talks about Pluto's demotion from planetary status -- and why it was so controversial.


Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Comments [22]

m.zand from a

please send for me some file for listening (english + mp3)

Jan. 28 2009 10:48 PM

>talk about Niburu

No thanks - the world has enough problems of its own without making up fake ones.

Jan. 27 2009 07:13 PM
Cindy from NYC

Hey, that's Clare and the Reasons' song "pluto" at the very end of the show!!

Check it out, all about Pluto!!

Jan. 27 2009 05:29 PM
B. from NYC

I merely opted to refer to Pluto not as a "planet," but now as a "planette." Ah, it was just such a simple adjustment.

Jan. 27 2009 03:22 PM
Laurel Kornfeld from Highland Park, NJ

Pluto IS a planet because unlike most objects in the Kuiper Belt, it has attained hydrostatic equilibrium, meaning it has enough self-gravity to have pulled itself into a round shape. When an object is large enough for this to happen, it becomes differentiated with core, mantle, and crust, just like Earth and the larger planets, and develops the same geological processes as the larger planets, processes that inert asteroids and most KBOs do not have.

The IAU definition makes no linguistic sense, as it states that dwarf planets are not planets at all. That’s like saying a grizzly bear is not a bear. Second, it defines objects solely by where they are while ignoring what they are. If Earth were placed in Pluto’s orbit, by the IAU definition, it would not be a planet. That is because the further away an object is from its parent star, the more difficulty it will have in clearing its orbit.

Significantly, this definition was adopted by only four percent of the IAU, most of whom are not planetary scientists. No absentee voting was allowed. It was opposed by a petition of 300 professional astronomers saying they will not use the new definition.

You can find the petition of astronomers who rejected the demotion of Pluto here:

Jan. 27 2009 12:21 PM
Gary from UWS (Actual Paying WNYC Member)

hjs--looks like my comment has been banished.

Jan. 27 2009 11:16 AM
Benita Black from Greenwich Village

I learned this mnemonic BEFORE Pluto was discovered: "Mary's Violet Eyes Make Jim Stay Up Nights." When Pluto was added, the mnemonic word added to the original was "Pining" . We can now simply remove "Pining" and return to the original.
Keep your educated mother and her nachos!

Jan. 27 2009 11:04 AM
hjs from 11211

i agree 100% but u have to write to "that's what they are there for"

Jan. 27 2009 11:03 AM
Robbie from Brooklyn

Oy! I missed him!!! This is the scientist who penned an Op-Ed in the NY Times providing "evidence" why Obama couldn't win. I think Tyson should keep his head pointed toward outer space. He and Shelby Steele have egg all over their faces.

Jan. 27 2009 11:02 AM
Rebecca from Brooklyn

I learned:

My very elegant mother just sat upon nine porcupines....

Jan. 27 2009 11:01 AM
David from Queens

You bully! You picked on the most defenseless

Jan. 27 2009 10:58 AM
antonio from park slope

Isn't pluto near alderaan?

Jan. 27 2009 10:57 AM
Jon from NYC

E pluribus unum :: E planetiode solaris?

Jan. 27 2009 10:57 AM

When I first visited the Rose Center, I was less disturbed by the omission of Pluto than I was by the statement that planets have circular orbits. When I went through my NYS Earth Science class, there was a big focus on how, and why, planets have eliptical orbits.

The docents for the exhibit insisted that planetary orbits were circular.

Any comments from your guest?

Jan. 27 2009 10:57 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

talk about Niburu

Jan. 27 2009 10:56 AM
Gary from UWS

Brian, ask Tyson:

What are astrologists supposed to do now with their birth charts?

Jan. 27 2009 10:55 AM
hjs from 11211

mary very easily make john sell used newspapers.

good for Pluto as a planet or not

noodles, nuts, nectarines, etc

Jan. 27 2009 10:49 AM
Jason from NYC

... um, that's "how people THINK of Pluto". Didn't mean to make it sound like Pluto harbors life. ;)

Jan. 27 2009 10:30 AM
Jason from NYC

From a pop-sci perspective, this change in Pluto's status always reminds me of the "how babies grow" debate. Most of us know that the baby isn't grown in the stomach. But everyone says it anyway. There's a scientific use of the word and a colloquial use of the word.

At least for Generations X and Y, Pluto's "demise" seems to have given it martyr status, or at least served in the "there's no such thing as bad press" category. It's a planet to those who want it that way - regardless of the scientific semantic specifics. It's the generation growing up now which will shed light on how people of Pluto moving forward.

Jan. 27 2009 10:27 AM

it's spelled mnemonic

sorry to be a prat, but that's what I am

Jan. 27 2009 10:05 AM
Office Worker from Brooklyn

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nothing.


Jan. 27 2009 09:34 AM
Peter from Flatbush, Brooklyn

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine . . . . Nine what? Just nine? please fix my Numonic!!!!

Jan. 27 2009 09:17 AM

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