Pluto: a Planet Or not


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This Article is produced by the BBC News outlet, in the section of Science categorically the Science and Environment department. The article is very easy to understand and summarises details of how Pluto was discovered and how eventually it was demoted. It identifies that Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. He was a United States astronomer. However, as more research was done, it emerged that there was a region known as Kuiper Belt. In 1992 an astronomer known as David Jewitt and his colleagues used the University of Hawaii’s telescope at Mauna Kea and detected or rather discovered the candidate Kuiper Belt Object.

Since this was in great comparison to Pluto, debates were sparked as to whether; the object should be qualified to be a planet since it has so many characteristics that resembled Pluto. However this was risky as it meant that each object that fitted the description would thus be a planet. There were similar discoveries of same masses and thus the debate took waves and pressure was mounted to the responsible parties to come out and give clarification. Some of the Kuiper Belt Objects that resembled Pluto were Quaoar which was announced in 2002, Sedna which was later discovered in 2003 and Eris which was discovered in 2005. This last one pushed the issue to the breaking point and stimulated more and more debate. The reason being, not only did this object resemble Pluto, but it was bigger than Pluto. This meant that Pluto was slowly losing its position. It was either they include all the objects as Planets, or they demote Pluto.

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Discussions were held in Prague in August 2006. They thus decided to change the definition of a Planet. Member presented voted to adopt a new resolution which was direct and restricted the definition to three different characteristics. They agreed that a Planet is a celestial body that is in orbit around the Sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium nearly round shape and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.

Pluto stood a chance with the first two definitions, however, when it came to the last part where it had to have cleared the neighborhood around its orbit it lost. Since Pluto shares its orbital neighborhood with the other objects found on the Kuiper Belt. Thus, just like that, Pluto lost its designation that it had held for over 76 years. It was thus classified under the category of dwarf planets.

However, this did not settle well with all the scientists. They argued that the Earth had some asteroids around it, thus fails to meet the definition placed that the planet has to have cleared the neighborhood. There were politics around the issue and some of the dominant were the timing of the voting time. Whereby only 10% of the 2700 astronomers who were present for the Pluto vote were in attendance as it was the last day of the general assembly where many participants had left. The debate has since rumbled and people seem to have moved on. Thus currently Pluto is not a Planet.

The research article is done by one, Sethanne Howard who has since retired from the USNO. She was driven to do the research based on her lifetime experiences and encounters with people who were always curious as to why Pluto got kicked off the Solar system, having been a planet for over 76 years and then one day we wake up to find, it is no longer a planet. Thus the article focuses on exactly how the astronomical objects are named or classified and who is responsible for the process. This article makes the reader understand in detail, why it made sense to demote Pluto.

The article starts with explaining just how stars are named. Starts occur in galaxies and thus naming them is very complicated. However, in the ancient days, Stars were named from the brightest to the faintest star visible. There are some constellations that were named using the Greek alphabetical order, and since it has only 24 characters, it makes it had to name all the starts. Eventually, astronomers decided to disregard the use of letters and names and instead developed a catalogues.

The article also sheds light on the International Astronomical Union that was founded in 1919. The mandate of this institution is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. This body holds meetings in every three years to process and vote resolutions regarding the naming and classification.

The article identifies that in the pre-telescope days, humans knew of only six planets. Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. However, after the telescope featured. Pluto and Neptune were discovered. Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh I 1930 at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. As common, people sent over very many suggestions for the planets. However, a young girl carried the show. She proposed Pluto, a name that symbolized the cold and dark nature of the underworld god. On 24th March, 1930 Pluto received the votes and it was officially declared the name for new planet. And in total, the solar system had 9 planets.

However, evidence begun to come up that after all, Pluto was not unique. Similar objects were coming up and being compared to the planet. An object, Eris was discovered and it was 27% more massive than Pluto. Time was up for Pluto. It was either they banish it or classify all the other upcoming objects as new planets. Thus Pluto lost its dominance as it was only fair. Otherwise, if Pluto stayed, that meant that the others would be classified and thus eventually we would have new planets every other day.

Differences Between the articles are that when it comes to Research articles, they are mainly written by experts who are focussed solely on the subject. They are often characterized by experts who have intense interest in the topic. These researchers borrow from their wealth of knowledge from their exposure with this topics and environment. When reading, there are additional details that cannot be traced on media articles. However, when it comes to the media articles. The research is brief and it borrows majorly from the research article. The author has no personal experience in the field and reports based on the research and the heated debates prevailing at the time.

Another difference is that the research articles are vetted and reviewed by other experts before being printed or published. For this other articles, they are reviewed by editors with focus on grammar and presentation as opposed to the research article. They do not test the theories with a keen interest as tested in the research articles.

These articles also pay great attention to detail. They cite their sources and include footnotes and bibliographies. They give credit to all the sources and are very detailed. For the media articles, they may paraphrase and also rely on hearsay, thus not necessarily keen on quoting sources.

The very conspicuous and notable difference is that the research articles are majorly intended for professional use such as academics and do not use bright colors or images to advertise the contents they rarely use images unless they are very relevant to the information. However, the media articles are colorful and the language used is very captivating thus drawing the interest of the reader. They are very easy to understand as the detailed are straight forward and easy. However, this also is a disadvantage as they give much summarised information that scholars cannot rely on. It’s thus safe to say that Research articles can be used mainly for academic purposes while the media articles are used for news and keeping people posted of the recent developments,  

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