Pluto declared ‘official state planet’ of Arizona even though it was reclassified as ‘dwarf planet’ - Hindustan Times
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Pluto declared ‘official state planet’ of Arizona even though it was reclassified as ‘dwarf planet’

BySumanti Sen
Apr 01, 2024 12:54 PM IST

Arizona has reportedly declared Pluto its “official state planet," although it was relegated to “dwarf planet” status several years ago

Arizona has reportedly declared Pluto its “official state planet.” However, Pluto is notably not a planet but was relegated to “dwarf planet” status several years ago.

Pluto has been declared the ‘official state planet’ of Arizona even though it was reclassified as dwarf planet years ago (Pixabay - representational image)
Pluto has been declared the ‘official state planet’ of Arizona even though it was reclassified as dwarf planet years ago (Pixabay - representational image)

According to The Arizona Daily Star, Gov. Katie Hobbs signed legislation on Friday, Match 29. When questioned on whether or not Pluto is a full-fledged planet, she ignored it. “I am proud of Arizona’s pioneering work in space discovery,” Hobbs said.

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Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in Flagstaff, Arizona, back in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory. Pluto also happens to be the only planet to be discovered in the US.

“The whole story of Clyde is just amazing, just sitting there under the telescope’’ looking for planets by taking photos over a period of time,” said Arizona state Rep. Justin Wilmeth (R-Phoenix), who praised the Pluto legislation.

Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales (D-Tucson), who is one of five senators who voted against the measure, said, “Scientifically, they took it out of being a planet.” She added that lawmakers must take scientific information into account, “something that we as a Legislature, as a body, sometimes omit.’’

Is Pluto a planet?

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted to remove Pluto from the group of planets, claiming that the icy object at the edge of the solar system failed to meet the full and proper definition of planets. It was thus reclassified as a “dwarf planet.”

According to Britannica, Pluto is classified as a dwarf planet because, “while it is large enough to have become spherical, it is not big enough to exert its orbital dominance and clear the neighborhood surrounding its orbit.”

The website noted that Pluto’s “demolition” felt like a “break from tradition” to many across the globe. It added that the step was, however, “a positive step forward into a new light, new knowledge, and changing perspectives of the universe.”

The website of NASA Science says that Pluto being reclassified prompted widespread outrage. “As the textbooks were updated, the internet spawned memes with Pluto going through a range of emotions, from anger to loneliness. But since the release of New Horizons images showing a very prominent heart-shaped feature on the surface, the sad Pluto meme has given way to a very content, loving Pluto that would like to once again be visited by a spacecraft,” it said.

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