Friday, August 02, 2013

How I Killed Pluto and Why it had it Coming, by Mike Brown

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It ComingHow I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike  Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book helped me mourn the loss of Pluto.
When I took my first astronomy class, well before the official demotion of Pluto, we were taught that it wasn't really a planet because it hadn't cleaned it's region of space, among other reasons. I was dubious but figured that for the sake of that class, I'd use whatever definition the teacher wanted, but I wasn't changing my view of what traditional planets were. When, years later, the announcement came that Pluto no longer could be considered a planet, I was conflicted. Sure, I had heard this might be coming, but didn't that mean that the way I imagined the solar system was somehow wrong?
Well, now, I've come to terms with it. No, the solar system isn't that much different, yes, Pluto is still there, exactly the way it was before and for the most part unaffected by our attention, and yes, it really is for the best that we stop calling Pluto a planet.
I can move on now. We live in a solar system with, probably, eight planets, four of which are gas giants and four of which are rocky. I'm good with that.
Besides helping me come to terms with Pluto's non planetary status, this book was educational and thoroughly entertaining. Brown made astronomy dramatic and interesting. I liked it.
This is probably one of those cases where a geeky science book will appeal mostly to the people outside of the field it deals with, as a lot of time is spent explaining concepts that are, in my opinion, common knowledge, but to someone mostly unfamiliar with astronomy, that is probably a good thing.
I enjoyed it. Now I'm going to go see about pulling that straggling has-been of a planet off of the solar system model my parents bought my daughter back when we thought of them as nine.

0 reflections: