Pluto demoted to dwarf planet in 2006

On Aug. 24, 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted to strictly define a planet, which ultimately downgraded Pluto from the ninth planet from the sun to a dwarf planet — causing controversy both scientifically and culturally.Watch the video above to learn more about Pluto’s demotionThe IAU, an organization that governs international professional astronomical activities worldwide, determined a planet must meet three criteria: It orbits around the sun, it is a spherical shape and it is big enough that its gravity cleared away any other objects of a similar size near its orbit. Pluto only meets two of the criteria required to be a planet. Because it is not gravitationally dominant, Pluto is considered a dwarf planet.However, only 5% of the world’s astronomers voted on the redefinition, sparking controversy in the astronomy community.”There’s a lot of leading planetary astronomers who are very upset about it, ” said Skylar Grayson, an astrophysics Ph.D. student at Arizona State University. The reclassification of Pluto also had a wide cultural impact as well. So much so that the American Dialect Society choose “plutoed” as 2006’s Word of the Year — meaning “to give someone or something a less important position than they had before.””There was a big outcry about Pluto being demoted,” Grayson said . “People had sort of an emotional connection to it. You grew up learning about the nine planets, then all of the sudden there’s eight.” Pluto was discovered in 1930 by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Its surface temperature is estimated at approximately -360 Fahrenheit and its average distance from the sun is nearly four billion miles — taking approximately 248 years to complete one orbit.

On Aug. 24, 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted to strictly define a planet, which ultimately downgraded Pluto from the ninth planet from the sun to a dwarf planet — causing controversy both scientifically and culturally.

Watch the video above to learn more about Pluto’s demotion

The IAU, an organization that governs international professional astronomical activities worldwide, determined a planet must meet three criteria: It orbits around the sun, it is a spherical shape and it is big enough that its gravity cleared away any other objects of a similar size near its orbit.

Pluto only meets two of the criteria required to be a planet. Because it is not gravitationally dominant, Pluto is considered a dwarf planet.

However, only 5% of the world’s astronomers voted on the redefinition, sparking controversy in the astronomy community.

“There’s a lot of leading planetary astronomers who are very upset about it,” said Skylar Grayson, an astrophysics Ph.D. student at Arizona State University.

The reclassification of Pluto also had a wide cultural impact as well. So much so that the American Dialect Society choose “plutoed” as 2006’s Word of the Year — meaning “to give someone or something a less important position than they had before.”

“There was a big outcry about Pluto being demoted,” Grayson said. “People had sort of an emotional connection to it. You grew up learning about the nine planets, then all of the sudden there’s eight.”

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Its surface temperature is estimated at approximately -360 Fahrenheit and its average distance from the sun is nearly four billion miles — taking approximately 248 years to complete one orbit.

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