Pluto: Planet or Dwarf Planet?
On this day 83 years ago, American astronomer Percival Lowell discovered Pluto. The distant, frozen, tiny rocky planet quickly became the 9th planet of our solar system. It held this position for 76 years until it was demoted to “Dwarf Planet” in 2006.
But I still consider Pluto the 9th planet of our solar system.
In 2005, astronomer Dan Brown–not to be confused with “The DaVinci Code” author of the same name–made a huge discovery: a planet orbiting beyond Pluto that was actually bigger! Was this the 10th planet of our solar system?
But wait, there were other discoveries…
There seemed to be many objects in our solar system about the size of Pluto!Orcus, Haumea, Quaoar, Makemake, 2007 OR10, Eris, and Sedna to name the ones we’ve found so far. Were these all planets? Our solar system was about to become a crowded place.
But in 2006 the International Astronomical Union put a stop to all of this planet talk and re-defined what it meant to be a “planet.” Sadly, Pluto was demoted to “Dwarf Planet” or “Plutoid” because of this ruling, and our solar system which stood on the brink of containing 16 planets, was shaved down to just 8.
I love that we are still discovering, and still learning! Still, there are those of us that learned growing up that our solar system had 9 planets. Even though Pluto is a Dwarf Planet now, it’s still a planet to me. It’s like the little planet that could.