Is Pluto A Planet?
“One item that will be in the news this year is Pluto, as the New Horizons spacecraft – which has my name on it – reaches our distant cousin in the outer reaches of the Solar System – but will it encounter a planet?
Just 7 months after New Horizons was launched back in January 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted to re-classify Pluto as a Dwarf Planet, resulting in uproar in the astronomical community and starting a controversy that still divides opinion among astronomers and the general public alike.
“Is Pluto A Planet?” covers the thorny question of the status of Pluto. It looks in detail at the IAU definition of a planet and some of its unexpected – and unintended – consequences. To give an example, I can show that Jupiter – the biggest object in the Solar System after the Sun – is actually a dwarf planet! I can also show that it isn’t a planet at all … So how many planets to we really have? Is it 8, 21 or maybe only 3? This is my most controversial presentation, and includes some things that one astronomer has told me I shouldn’t be saying!”
Date and time to be announced.