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Speakers' Forum

Neil deGrasse Tyson: The Pluto Files

Jason Pagano
03/19/2009 at 8:00 p.m.

In 2000, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson headed a $200 million reconstruction project at New York's Hayden Planetarium. His exhibit on the solar system included a subtle, crucial change based on some new thinking: There were only eight planets. The ninth, Pluto, was reassigned as one of the "icy bodies" orbiting beyond Neptune. The New York Times reported the change and letters poured in. Five years later, the International Astronomical Union made it official. The IAU voted on a new definition for planets, and Pluto was out.

In this lecture at Seattle's Town Hall on February 23, 2009, Neil deGrasse Tyson tells the story of the strong reaction to Pluto's demotion to "dwarf planet" status. Much of it was directed at him personally by angry third graders. Tyson appeared as part of the Seattle Science Lectures sponsored by the Pacific Science Center and Elliott Bay Book Company.



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