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Business News/ Science / News/  Pluto declared ‘official state planet’ of this US state
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Pluto declared ‘official state planet’ of this US state

Arizona—a southwestern US state—has recently declared Pluto as its ‘official state planet’ despite the ‘dwarf planet’ being stripped of its official status as a planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union

This Pluto image was taken in July 2015, when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface (Photo: NASA)Premium
This Pluto image was taken in July 2015, when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface (Photo: NASA)

Arizona--a southwestern US state—has recently declared Pluto as its ‘official state planet’ despite the ‘dwarf planet’ being stripped of its official status as a planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union

Last Friday (i.e. March 29), Arizona governor Katie Hobbs signed a legislation declaring the ‘dwarf planet’ as the ‘official state planet’ of the US state, reported The Arizona Daily Star. When quizzed on whether the Pluto is a full-fledged planet? The Arizona governor dodged the question saying “I am proud of Arizona’s pioneering work in space discovery." 

It is important to note that Pluto was discovered by American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff of Arizona in 1930. Pluto happens to be the only planet to be discovered in the US.

“The whole story of Clyde is just amazing, just sitting there under the telescope’’ looking for planets by taking photos over a period of time," said Arizona state Republican Justin Wilmeth (R-Phoenix), who praised the Pluto legislation.

Senator Sally Ann Gonzales (D-Tucson)--one among the five senators who voted against the legislation--said, “Scientifically, they took it out of being a planet." Gonzales added that lawmakers must take scientific information into account, “something that we as a Legislature, as a body, sometimes omit.’’

What is the status of Pluto?

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted to remove Pluto from the group of planets, claiming that the icy object at the edge of the solar system failed to meet the full and proper definition of planets. The IAU reclassified Pluto as a “dwarf planet."

According to NASA, “Pluto is a dwarf planet located in a distant region of our solar system beyond Neptune known as the Kuiper Belt. It was long considered our ninth planet, but the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet in 2006."

“It was named by 11-year-old Venetia Burney of Oxford, England," the US space agency added.

Pluto is classified as a dwarf planet because, “while it is large enough to have become spherical, it is not big enough to exert its orbital dominance and clear the neighbourhood surrounding its orbit," ass per Encyclopedia Britannica.

The website noted that Pluto’s “demolition" felt like a “break from tradition" to many across the globe. It added that the step was, however, “a positive step forward into a new light, new knowledge, and changing perspectives of the universe."

NASA further said, “When Pluto was reclassified in 2006 from a planet to a dwarf planet, there was widespread outrage on behalf of the demoted planet. As the textbooks were updated, the internet spawned memes with Pluto going through a range of emotions, from anger to loneliness. But since the release of New Horizons images showing a very prominent heart-shaped feature on the surface, the sad Pluto meme has given way to a very content, loving Pluto that would like to once again be visited by a spacecraft."

“The Disney cartoon character Pluto, Mickey's faithful dog, made his debut in 1930, the same year Clyde Tombaugh, an astronomer at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, discovered the dwarf planet. There is speculation that Walt Disney named the animated dog after the recently discovered planet to capitalize on its popularity, but other accounts are less certain of a direct link," the US space agency added.

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Published: 01 Apr 2024, 03:11 PM IST
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