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2009-03-27 – Pluto and Planets X: Is Pluto a Planet? And Why Does It Matter?

On Friday March 27th in Dunsink Observatory,  Brother Guy Consomagno (Vatican Astronomer) will give a talk entitled

“Pluto and Planets X: Is Pluto a Planet? And Why Does It Matter?”

Some 15 years ago, the first “trans-Neptunian Object” besides Pluto was discovered. Within the past five years, a rush of new discoveries has revealed a number of bodies whose size rivals that of Pluto. What are these objects? Where did they come from, and what can they tell us about the origin and evolution of the solar system? How are these objects found, and why they only being discovered now? Finally, are they indeed new planets? Who gets to say, and how is this determined? What did the IAU finally decide at its General Assembly in 2006, and how was that decision reached? Observing these objects, and observing their observers, is a revealing story in both the science and politics of planetary astronomy.