Monday, March 15, 2004
Pluto: planet or no? I used to come down easily on the side of considering Pluto as a planet, but with this discovery I'm not so sure. The saga of Clyde Tombaugh's diligent and tenacious search for Pluto is inspiring. What is not generally known is that he spent an additional sixteen years searching for more planets beyond Neptune, but without success. Astronomers are right. Eventually we will find a body in the outer solar system larger than Pluto. At that point, I think astronomers will demote the little icy planet. It's really inevitable. Another bit of trivia: Galileo, in his observations of Jupiter in 1610, probably cast his eye on the planet Neptune, though he wouldn't have realized its significance at the time. Likewise, Percival Lowell, in his fruitless search for Planet X (Pluto) actually did have a pair of 1916 photographs that imaged Pluto. He just missed it. Don't miss your opportunities today, especially if they are heavenly ones.