Is Pluto a Planet? An Animated Explanation Sets the Record Straight
A brief history of why the word “planet” isn’t very helpful.
By Maria Popova
Since the dawn of time, humanity has sought to order the heavens, our models for the universe and the Solar System constantly evolving. The latest celestial body to ride the roller coaster of categorization is Pluto, which seems to fall in and out of planetary favor far too frequently for anyone to understand — or remember — whether or not it is indeed a planet. From the invariably edutaining C. G. P. Gray, whose fast-paced animations have previously set the record straight on everything from why the color pink doesn’t exist to the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England to several historical misconceptions, comes this short illuminator on what to make of Pluto after all:
As we increase our knowledge of the universe, the category of “planet” will probably continue to evolve or, possibly, fall out of favor entirely.
Complement with poet Diane Ackerman’s ode to Pluto from her Cosmic Pastoral, then revisit this 4,000-year pictorial history of mapping the universe.
Published June 4, 2012