The Case for Pluto

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, May 26, 2011

Whether you believe Pluto should still be classified as a planet or you’re dancing on its planetary grave, you owe yourself a book treat. Alan Boyle’s The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference (258 pp., hardcover, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2010, $22.95, ISBN 978–0–470–50544–1) is a sensational work that ought to be on your bookshelf.

Photo credit: John Wiley & Sons
A smooth, succinct summary that reads like a detective story filled with intrigue, the work was crafted by an award-winning science writer and veteran MSNBC science reporter. Virtually the whole life story of Pluto is told, from the author’s introduction to Pluto in an Iowa cornfield, to the concept of planetary discovery, to the search for Planet X. Boyle provides brief chapters on Pluto’s discovery, the discovery of Charon, and the controversy that flared in the early 2000s as astronomers began to stumble on potentially astronomical numbers of Kuiper Belt objects.

Ideas for the exploration of Pluto, which transformed into New Horizons, follow. Mike Brown’s discovery of dwarf planets and the arguments over Pluto at the IAU meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, receive careful consideration, as do final arguments about dwarf planets versus ordinary ones and the possibilities for observing extrasolar Plutos.

The end result is a neat package that serves as an exciting overview of Pluto, start to finish. Pluto fans who haven’t read the book should grab a copy – you will enjoy it immensely.

Tags: books
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