Saturday, April 25, 2009

My 2nd Favorite Astrophysicist

My 2nd Favorite Astrophysicist

I just finished this book by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. The author writes in a style that I always imagined Brennan doing. He explains science in a clear understandable way, with humor and creativity mixed in. More on the author later in the post.
A few years ago there was quite an uproar when Pluto was demoted from one of the nine planets to a "dwarf planet".
As the New York Times wrote:

It has long been clear that Pluto, discovered in 1930, stood apart from the previously discovered planets. Not only was it much smaller than them, only about 1,600 miles in diameter, smaller than the Moon, but its elongated orbit is tilted with respect to the other planets and it goes inside the orbit of Neptune part of its 248-year journey around the Sun.

Pluto makes a better match with the other ice balls that have since been discovered in the dark realms beyond Neptune, they have argued. In 2000, when the new Rose Center for Earth and Space opened at the American Museum of Natural History, Pluto was denoted in a display as a Kuiper Belt Object and not a planet.

The planets are now put in groups: the 4 Terrestrial planets, including earth, and the 4 Jovian, or gaseous planets. No longer will students be trying to memorize the nine planets in order.

The change in Pluto's status created a lot of controversy, which is covered in the book. Pluto had been a planet all their lives, and they wished for it to continue that way. People are gradually making the adjustment to the new way of looking at our solar system.

Lyrics by Jeff Mondak and Alex Stangel

Since 1930, quite a run

It was always the smallest one

And oh so distant from the sun

But Pluto’s not a planet anymore

Uranus may be famous

But Mercury’s feeling hot

For Pluto was a planet

And somehow now it’s not

Neptune’s nervous, Saturn’s sad

And jumpin’ Jupiter is hoppin’ mad

Eight remain of nine we had

Pluto’s not a planet anymore

They held the meeting here on Earth

Mars and Venus proved their worth

But puny Pluto lacked the girth

So, Pluto’s not a planet anymore

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson (born October 5, 1958 in New York City) is an American astrophysicist and, since 1996, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Since 2006, he has hosted PBS's educational television show NOVA scienceNOW. Keen and charismatic, Tyson is a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Jeopardy!.

Scientific works


  1. I have seen Dr. Tyson on TV (Universe series) before and really enjoyed listening to him discuss Astronomy topics. VR

  2. well i think that he is correst on pluto not being na planet but why does he look so scared and guilty like he made a crime or something he should be smiiling ear to ear because he made history on pluto not being a plaent at least i would be happy about it!lol

  3. Yes, Dr. Tyson is most likely correct in his decision about Pluto. I really recommend his book "The Pluto Files." It explains all the controversy and diverse opinions that came about as a result of downgrading Pluto.