Watch a debate over whether Pluto should get its planet status back

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If you’re someone who is still mad about Pluto’s planetary demotion from over a decade ago. Then an upcoming debate concerning the definition of the word”planet” could be of interest to you.

One of Pluto’s main defenders, Alan Stern, will be debating Ron Ekers, who used to be the president of the International Astronomical Union. The global organization is responsible for redefining the word”planet”. It was ultimately the IAU’s decision to designate Pluto and other smallish worlds like it as”dwarf planets,” a title different from the word”planet”. The change triggered lots of angst and upheaval. Perhaps the critic of the new definition has been the principal investigator on NASA’s New Horizons mission which sent a spacecraft to Pluto for the first time in July of 2015, Stern.


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“The process for redefining planet was deeply flawed and widely criticized by people who accepted the outcome”. Stern wrote in an op-ed at The Washington Post, combined with New Horizons scientist David Grinspoon.

For those who need a refresher, the”world” debate really got into full swing in 2005 when astronomers discovered another very small world about exactly the same size as Pluto at the fringes of the Solar System. Known as Eris, the planet was thought to be the 10th planet at the time. But as astronomers started to discover an increasing number of worlds in the distant Solar System. Experts started to wonder whether there was to the planet definition a change in order.

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Then in 2006, the IAU held a conference in Prague to come up with a formal definition for the word”planet”. The IAU is responsible for giving names so this kind of work fell within the purview of the organization. At the conference’s end, the IAU decided that an object has to meet three criteria to be considered a world. It must orbit the Sun, It needs to be rounded out by gravity, and it has to have cleared its orbital area.

That grade ultimately caused lots of play in the science community. It means that a planet’s orbit must be clear of other objects, and Pluto’s orbit is filled with a lot of small, icy bodies. (There’s more explanation in our movie above.) That’s why it got reclassified as a dwarf planet, a decision that has led to 13 decades of loud public mourning over the fact that Pluto is not a planet anymore.


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Have been calling for a change and pluto evangelists have refused to accept the definition. And Stern will find the chance to debate among those people considered responsible for changing the condition of the world he has spent nearly a decade trying to research.

The debate will take place at the Powell Auditorium in the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC. Things get underway at 8 PM ET on Monday. And the event will be live-streamed for people who cannot attend in person. If you need some lively discussion about mechanics, gravity, and space rocks, this is the night for you.

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