Pluto and the Dwarfs: A New Design for Our Solar System

Molly Levine, Research Unplugged intern
March 30, 2009
professor holding green ball with quote to the right

The dwarf planet is just like a planet, but it hasn’t cleared the neighborhood. -Mercedes Richards, professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics

On Wednesday, March 25th, Mercedes Richards, professor of astrophysics and astronomy, led a lively discussion about our constantly changing solar system, at the second event of Research Unplugged's spring 2009 season. Richards explained that since astronomers are always making new developments and discoveries, it is necessary to frequently redefine planets and other aspects of our solar system. The definition of a planet was a prime issue at the 2006 meeting of the International Astronomical Union, and Richards explained the reasons leading to her vote to change the definition of a planet. She also showed eye-catching PowerPoint images that made clear the sizes and orbits of many planet-like objects in our solar system.

The audience was attentive, asking many interesting questions about Pluto, the search for life on other planets, and what led Richards to become such an avid astronomer.

For more about Mercedes Richards, read on...

Last Updated March 30, 2009