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