Demoting Pluto

By Karen Harris
The Sun and Planets of our Solar System Including Pluto. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

Since 1930, all of our science textbooks have told us that the Milky Way solar system had nine planets orbiting the Sun. Ask any science-minded kid in a generation or two ago and he or she would tell you that Pluto is the smallest planet and the one furthest from the Sun. An icy, barren, and dark planet, Pluto is tiny compared to its neighbors but had some moons orbiting it. It may not have been as glamorous as Venus, flashy as Saturn, or powerful as Jupiter, but Pluto could command some attention from astronomers. That all changed in 2006 when scientists demoted Pluto from full planet status to that of a newly-established celestial category, dwarf planet. Let’s look at the rise and fall of Pluto.