The Stargazer: Astronomical history shows why Pluto’s no longer a planet

This is part of a series of articles written by members of the Westfield High School Space and Astronomy Club. Their mission is to share their enthusiasm for space and astronomical events with the surrounding community. The Westfield News will check in with club members from time to time for an update on what we can see in the sky.

Some of you may have heard about the celestial body Pluto — not the dog — and you also may have heard of what happened to it. It went from being a planet and standing with the likes of Jupiter, Earth, Uranus, Neptune, and all the other planets until it was suddenly demoted to being known as a “dwarf planet.” So what happened to Pluto? Why in the world was Pluto changed to no longer be classified as a planet and instead be demoted to a dwarf planet? To find this we must first look at Pluto before the changes took place.

Pluto was first discovered in 1930 by the astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, however this was with the help of the astronomer Percival Lowell. Lowell sadly died before the discovery of Pluto, though he dedicated a lot of his time trying to find it, and even created the observatory Clyde found Pluto in. After discovery, Pluto remained classified as a planet for over 70 years before it was eventually renamed as a dwarf planet in 2006. However, it should be noted that during this span of 70 years, many people debated its planet status and the controversy surrounding it. Now, many of you readers might ask why in the world Pluto was recategorized as a dwarf planet, and lucky for you, I can answer that.

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