Ten days ago, the New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to a planet that we have known very little about. The planet is Pluto. I call it a planet because to me, that’s what it is. From first grade up until several years ago we had nine planets orbiting our sun. Then some scientists who had nothing better to do with their time decided to overcomplicate matters by stripping Pluto of its status as a planet. Since it’s discovery on February 18, 1930 by American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, Pluto has been nothing more than a very fuzzy blob in even the most powerful telescopes, being 3.6 billion miles from the sun (although sometimes closer due to its oval orbit), it’s difficult to see anything. So we sent up a spacecraft to finally find out what this small “dwarf” planet is all about. After sending spacecraft to every other planet in our solar system, it was finally Pluto’s turn.

What we found shocked, amazed and excited scientists. New Horizons flew just 7,800 miles above the surface of this mysterious world. It showed that Pluto was active, with flowing ice fields and geologic processes. As New Horizons flew onward and looked back at Pluto, it saw that this little world has an atmosphere made up of two layers of mist. That alone was a shocker! Who would have thought that such a small world would have an atmosphere? This is no dwarf planet, this is a living, active, member of our solar system. It has five moons: Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra. Like other PLANETS in our solar system, it has moons, one of which is a sphere. The others are probably captured objects from the Kuiper Belt.

So I have launched a petition to be presented to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and NASA, to reinstate Pluto as a planet. While I doubt this will cause a change, it’s worth trying and I hope you will help support it. To place your vote just hop over to this CHANGE.ORG page. I hope that someday we can have nine planets again, because Pluto is a wondrous place with incredible things going on.

Pluto as seen by New Horizons as it passed behind the planet, showing an atmosphere!
Pluto as seen by New Horizons as it passed behind the planet, showing an atmosphere!

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