Hello! I’m Karl Hricko of United Astronomy Clubs of NJ, bringing you the May Astronomy Update for the WNTI listening area. So what happened to Pluto? Is it a planet, or not? Who decides the category that a celestial object is to be placed in? In astronomy, the organization that does this is the International Astronomical Union or the IAU.
At a meeting in Prague in 2006, The IAU reclassified Pluto as a Dwarf Planet. They did this by defining a planet as an object that orbits the Sun, is massive enough for its own gravity to make it round, and has cleared its neighborhood of smaller objects around its orbit. Pluto is embedded in a vast swarm of bodies similar to itself, which is not true of the planets. Although many astronomers have accepted this definition, there are some who strongly reject it. However officially, Pluto is now classified as a Dwarf Planet.
If you want to see Pluto, you’ll need a 12 inch diameter telescope. Its located in the southwest at the top of the teapot shaped Sagittarius. For the planets that you can see with the naked eye, Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter come closely together toward the end of the month, looking west-northwest in Taurus at dusk. Saturn moves from Libra to Virgo, and shines brightly all night in the south-southeast. Mars can’t be seen because it rises too soon before the Sun.
So this month, If you can’t see Pluto, you’ll be able to eyeball
the other planets that are not dwarfs.
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