Monday, March 01, 2010

"NOVA: The Pluto Files"

The debate over whether Pluto is a planet or not is important to Annette Tombaugh. Her father, Clyde, a native of Streator, discovered it at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., in 1930 when he was just 24 years old.

Tombaugh and her family, including her 97-year-old mother and her brother, were interviewed by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson for PBS' "NOVA: The Pluto Files," set to air Tuesday, March 2, at 8 p.m. on WTTW Channel 11 in Chicago.

In the documentary, Tyson travels across the country, exploring the history of Pluto and the heated debate around its cosmic status. Tyson stops along the way in Streator and speaks to townspeople about their opinions.

The debate began when the International Astronomical Union changed the definition of a planet and Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet status. Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and when a 2000 exhibit of the earth's solar system left Pluto out, public rebellion ensued.

1 comment:

Laurel Kornfeld said...

It is important to note that from the beginning, Tyson distanced himself from the IAU decision, which he accurately described as "flawed." In "The Pluto Files," he recognizes that Pluto's status is a subject of ongoing debate, and that there is no consensus among astronomers on the matter. It is important for people to realize that something does not become fact just because a group of people decree it so.

Personally, I hope Patsy Tombaugh lives to 2015 to see New Horizons visit Pluto and illustrate that it is very much a planet.