[meteorite-list] Pluto - Part 1 of 2

From: bernd.pauli_at_paulinet.de <bernd.pauli_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:32:50 2004
Message-ID: <DIIE.0000004000001C1A_at_paulinet.de>

Hi Tom, AL, and List,

> I have a book that I recommend her to read or do research from, it is
> called "Out Of The Darkness" The Planet Pluto by Tombaugh and Moore

The articles Ron posted on Sedna also contain several interesting
passages with regard to Pluto's present status as a planet or a KB
(Kuiper Belt) object, for example:

"Is it a planet? The new discovery will reignite the debate about what constitutes
a planet. One group of astronomers believe that Pluto is not a true planet but merely
one of the largest of a vast number of minor objects in the outer Solar System. The
alternative standpoint is that Pluto is a planet and those who believe that will have to
classify Sedna as the 10th planet."


"Is Sedna a planet? NO, at least not by our definition. Astronomers have been
unable to agree on a precise definition of planet, but we have a suggestion for
a definition below. By our definition, Sedna is not a planet. Nor is Pluto ..."

Here is a review of the book AL mentions:

Sky & Telescope, March 1981, pp. 244-245

Out of the darkness: The planet Pluto

C.W. Tombaugh and Patrick Moore Stackpole
Books, Harrisburg, Pa., 1980, 221 pages - $14.95.

The year 1980, being the 50th anniversary of Pluto's discovery, saw at least three
books devoted to this intriguing little planet. Fortunately, the best has been saved
for last. This modest volume captures the drama of the planet's detection as only
its discoverer could; much of it reads more like a novel than a scientific account of
a series of events. There is relatively little science (see the other books if you want
much of that). Rather, here unfolds the story of the events leading up to the search,
the personalities involved, the project itself, and what happened after the excitement
died down. The second author's contribution is basically to supply background material
and to summarize present knowledge of Pluto.

Since there is not very much known about this small world, this book is almost exclusively
a history of its discovery - as all books on this subject more or less are. There are 16
chapters, 11 being by Clyde Tombaugh. An early autobiographical sketch by Tombaugh
leads to four chapters by Patrick Moore that discuss the discovery of Uranus, the asteroids,
and the prediction and identification of Neptune (which sets the stage for the Pluto story).
These chapters are quite brief yet cover all the important people and events.

Tombaugh follows with nine more extensive chapters covering the early searches, the
acquisition of the 13-inch astrograph at Lowell Observatory, the photographic program,
the discovery itself, subsequent developments, our knowledge of Pluto since 1930, and
the discovery of its satellite in 1978. Details of the latter event are also elaborated by the
discoverer, James W. Christy, in a very nice foreword.

Next is a too short chapter by Moore on Pluto as we now know it, followed by the final one
by Tombaugh discussing the possibilities that there might still be something else out there,
for which claims have already been made. This reviewer suspects that Tombaugh might be
a bit pessimistic here, but it is probably the caution of experience.

There are also four appendixes, a helpful glossary, and a rather brief index. The first appendix
describes the 50th anniversary celebration in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on February 18, 1980,
a spectacular affair primarily honoring Tombaugh. It also included a scientific symposium
devoted to our present understanding of Pluto, and it is unfortunate that this book has no real
discussion of the results.

Other appendixes contain pertinent numerical data and important dates in the Pluto story. Finally,
there is a mildly interesting but somewhat irrelevant descriptive scale model of the solar system.
The book follows a generally narrative style with relatively few technical details. There are no
equations, a few numbers where needed, a variety of good photographs, and a few diagrams
of which some, unfortunately, are virtually incomprehensible.

This volume provides generally fascinating reading for anyone with even a mild interest in
astronomy, and especially for those interested in planetary astronomy or the history of science.
It could even be recommended as supplemental background reading for a general astronomy
course, as a good example of how seemingly dull routine work can be made quite interesting.
I would certainly recommend this work to anyone who is interested enough to read the book
reviews in Sky And Telescope. ROBERT S. HARRINGTON (U.S. Naval Observatory)

To: almitt_at_kconline.com
Cc: meteorite-list_at_meteoritecentral.com
Received on Tue 16 Mar 2004 11:38:43 AM PST

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