HomeAstronomyWhy isn't Pluto a planet?

Why isn’t Pluto a planet?

Textbooks had to be rewritten. Members of the public were outraged. Our understanding of the solar system itself was forever changed on Aug. 24, 2006, when researchers at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted to reclassify Pluto, changing its status from a planet to a dwarf planet — a relegation that was largely seen as a demotion and which continues to have reverberations to this day. 

Today, the debate about Pluto exposes difficulties in the definition of “planet.” The IAU defines a planet as a celestial body orbiting the sun, with a nearly spherical appearance, and that has (for the most part) cleared debris from its orbital neighborhood. But even this set of metrics is not universally agreed upon. 

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