Friday, February 18, 2005

Pluto is your friend

Unless, of course, you're the director of the Hayden Planetarium and you're trying to demote Charon's loyal companion from planetary status. Neil deGrasse Tyson tried it five years ago, and he "still [has] folders of hate mail from third-graders." The moral of this modern-day Aesop's fable: Don't mess with third-graders.

At any rate, you'll be glad to know that amateur astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto 75 years ago today, and we may learn a lot more about it in the next couple of decades. Scientists with NASA's New Horizons mission hope to launch mankind's first probe to the ninth planet next year, a prospect that has my inner astronomy nerd giddy in anticipation.

Finally, to answer the burning question that's been gnawing away at all of us for years: It appears Mickey Mouse's dog was named after the planet, not vice versa.

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