Two specific points are made very clear throughout the course of the book.
The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference
This is the crux of the argument, and this is why there is no right or wrong answer, only differing interpretations. The other critical point Boyle articulates addresses public perception, culture, why people care about Pluto. He accurately dismisses Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson's claim that people's affinity for Pluto is all about the Disney dog. It's all about the underdog. Notably, Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto, was himself an underdog, having grown up in a farm family and taken the job at Lowell Observatory with only the one-way ticket to Flagstaff he could afford.
Tombaugh eventually obtained a Masters in astronomy but never a PhD, a fact that caused him to be snubbed by some astronomers.
In a relatively small book, Boyle provides a plethora of information about the five bodies currently designated as dwarf planets, a list of next generation projects searching for exoplanets, a copy of the IAU resolutions, and, most importantly, a section in the back about how to talk to kids about planets. In clear, non-technical language, he discusses the fact that scientists do not all think the same way about planets, emphasizing that debate is at the heart of the way science works. As for the question of how many planets revolve around our Sun, "four plus four plus more," referring to four terrestrials, four jovians, and an indeterminate number of "more" planets of a third category, is the most concise, most sensible way I have yet heard this question answered.
The Case for Pluto speaks to all ages, to lay people and scientists alike, demystifying what to many was a convoluted, senseless decision by a remote group of academics that has generated much confusion. Is there a solution to the debate? Boyle proposes using a model similar to the Herzsprung-Russell Diagram, which has been used to classify stars for almost years, envisioning a similar spectrum for planets.
But such a spectrum must also address the amazing diversity of objects being found orbiting other stars.
And that most likely means adding more subcategories. Or the littlest planet.
The Case for Pluto on Apple Books
Or the most distant planet. But does that make Pluto a nonplanet?
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The case for Pluto : how a little planet made a big difference
Facebook Twitter Google. Laurel's Pluto Blog [ entries archive friends userinfo ] laurele. There have been times when I've stayed up way too late reading a science fiction or fantasy novel, but this is the first time I've ever burnt the midnight oil on a science book.
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The "Battle of Prague" was gripping drama, and the opening chapters on earlier planet discoveries leading up to Pluto were equally fascinating. I couldn't put the silly book down! Alan is a wonderful writer, and really does make a good case for "dwarf planets" just being a dynamic sub-category of "planets". One really good point the book makes page : if moons can lurk in planetary rings, why can't planets lurk in asteroid belts?
Hopefully, over time Alan's kind of sanity will start to prevail. 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.
Now astronomers have identified at least five dwarf planets, or mini-worlds, orbiting our Sun.
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When the New Horizons spacecraft reaches Pluto in , we'll know more about this underdog of the solar system. Even then, the furor is bound to continue. Uplifting Leadership.