A Poem for Pluto Day

Pluto is as far across as Manhattan to Miami,
but its atmosphere is bigger than the Earth’s. 

– Alan Stern, American planetary scientist

On February 18, 1930, the planet Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh, at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona, and then it was named by Venetia Burney, who was 11-years-old at the time.

In 2006, a controversial vote at the International Astronomical Union downgraded Pluto to a dwarf planet, which means it’s still a planet of a sort.

Should size really matter so much?

Maggie Dietz was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She is a poet and editor. In 1999, she won the Grolier Poetry Prize, and her poetry collection, Perennial Fall, won the 2007 Jane Kenyon Award. She was assistant poetry editor for Slate magazine (2004-2012), and she also served as director of the Favorite Poem Project, started by Robert Pinsky during his terms as U.S. Poet Laureate (1997-2000).


To read the poem “Pluto” by Maggie Dietz, click here:



by Maggie Dietz

Don’t feel small. We all have
been demoted. Go on being

moon or rock or orb, buoyant
and distant, smallest craft ball

at Vanevenhoven’s Hardware
spray-painted purple or day-glow

orange for a child’s elliptical vision
of fish line, cardboard and foam.

No spacecraft has touched you,
no flesh met the luster of your

heavenly body. Little cold one, blow
your horn. No matter what you are

planet, and something other than
planet, ancient but not “classical,”

the controversy over what to call you
light-hours from your ears. On Earth

we tend to nurture the diminutive,
root for the diminished. None

of your neighbors knows your name.
Nothing has changed. If Charon’s

not your moon, who cares? She
remains unmoved, your companion.

“Pluto” from That Kind of Happy, by Maggie Dietz – © 2016 by The University of Chicago Press

  • Planetary sizes compared to the Sun
  • Infrared photo of Pluto


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
This entry was posted in Astronomy/Astrophysics, Poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.