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The Pluto files : the rise and fall of America's favorite planet
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Planetary theory
Science history
American culture
- United States
Time Period
1930-2006 -- 20th-21st century
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  Library Journal Review

Tyson is the director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium and the author of several popular astronomy books (e.g., Death by Black Hole). In 2000, the planetarium opened a new solar system exhibit that presented Pluto not as a planet but an object in the Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy bodies in the outer solar system. This new classification went largely unnoticed until a critical New York Times article appeared a year later. The ensuing controversy and the discovery of several other Pluto-like objects in the Kuiper Belt led astronomers to redefine what constitutes a planet. This book is Tyson's personal account of the exhibit controversy and of Pluto's 2006 demotion from planet to dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union. Many who grew up learning that Pluto was a planet resisted the reclassification, and the discussion divided scientists and nonscientists alike. Tyson documents Pluto's fall with editorial cartoons, letters from schoolchildren, song lyrics, and dialog among disagreeing scientists. He also expertly relates the history and science of Pluto and its discovery. Recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/08.]--Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado, Denver (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

From Pluto's 1930 discovery to the emotional reaction worldwide to its demotion from planetary status, astrophysicist, science popularizer and Hayden Planetarium director deGrasse Tyson (Death by Black Hole) offers a lighthearted look at the planet. Astronomical calculations predicted the presence of a "mysterious and distant Planet X" decades before Clyde Tombaugh spotted it in 1930. DeGrasse Tyson speculates on why straw polls show Pluto to be the favorite planet of American elementary school students (for one, "Pluto sounds the most like a punch line to a hilarious joke"). But Pluto's rock and ice composition, backward rotation and problematic orbit raised suspicions. As the question of Pluto's nature was being debated by scientists, the newly constructed Rose Center for Earth and Space at the Hayden Planetarium quietly but definitively relegated Pluto to the icy realm of Kuiper Belt Objects (cold, distant leftovers from the solar system's formation), raising a firestorm. Astronomers discussed and argued and finally created an official definition of what makes a planet. This account, if a bit Tyson-centric, presents the medicine of hard science with a sugarcoating of lightness and humor. 35 color and 10 b&w illus. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted Pluto out of planethood. Far from the sun, wonder Pluto has any fans. Yet during the mounting debate over rallied behind the extraterrestrial underdog. Disney created an irresistible pup by the same name, and, as one NASA scientist put it, Pluto was "discovered by an American for America." Pluto is entrenched in our cultural, patriotic view of the cosmos, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is on a quest to discover why.Only Tyson can tell this story: he was involved in the first exhibits to demote Pluto, and, consequently, Pluto lovers have freely shared their opinions with him, including endless hate mail from third graders. In his typically witty way, Tyson explores the history of planet recently been judged a dwarf.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. xi
1Pluto in Culturep. 3
2Pluto in Historyp. 21
3Pluto in Sciencep. 33
4Pluto's Fall from Gracep. 49
5Pluto Divides the Nationp. 95
6Pluto's Judgment Dayp. 115
7Pluto the Dwarf Planetp. 131
8Pluto in the Elementary School Classroom: A Personal Recommendation for Educatorsp. 151
9Plutologuep. 157
Appendix APluto Data (2008)p. 161
Appendix B"Planet X" (complete lyrics by Christine Lavin)p. 162
Appendix C"I'm Your Moon" (complete lyrics by Jonathan Coulton)p. 167
Appendix D"Pluto's Not a Planet Anymore" (complete lyrics by Jeff Mondak and Alex Stangl)p. 169
Appendix EOfficial Media Response from the Author Regarding the Rose Center's Exhibit Treatment of Plutop. 171
Appendix FResolution of the International Astronomical Union on the Definition of a Planetp. 175
Appendix GNew Mexico Legislation Relative to Pluto's Planetary Statusp. 177
Appendix HCalifornia Legislation Relative to Pluto's Planetary Statusp. 179
Bibliographyp. 181
Acknowledgmentsp. 183
Creditsp. 185
Indexp. 187
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