Schools Adjusting to Pluto’s Fall From Planetary Grace
Its change in status provides opportunity for lessons about the nature of science.
Tiny, frigid, and remote, Pluto has endured relentless astronomical skepticism since its discovery more than 70 years ago. And now, the shadowy brown orb has suffered the supreme indignity of losing its very status as a planet, to be replaced with a decidedly less-awesome descriptor: dwarf planet.
The International Astronomical Union’s recent downgrading of Pluto with that label capped years of scholarly debate about whether it was truly a planet, or a celestial object, or even a dormant comet.
Pluto’s reclassification, approved last month, will change the way that scientists and stargazers think and talk about the solar system—and it is likely to have a similar effect on school science lessons, where Pluto’s planetary standing, until now,...
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