February 18th, 2011

there!, Hello

Happy Identification Day, Pluto!

On this day in 1930, Pluto was identified by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. Not named (that wouldn't happen for another month) but identified. Photographic plates, you see, were taken of the night sky, and then compared to perceive moving bodies. On this day, from several plates taken in January 1930, Tombaugh identified the body that would come to be known as Pluto (named for the god of the underworld in Roman mythology, not the Disney cartoon dog, which wouldn't show up until August 1930, and wouldn't be publicly dubbed Pluto until 1931). At various times, the astronomical body has been classified a planet, a dwarf planet, or a plutoid (not to be confused with plutino, which might be named after Pluto but is actually a trans-Neptunian object smaller than Pluto but following a similar orbit; confused yet?). Call it what you want, but as Billy Joel sings, "It's still Rock and Roll to me..."
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