Pluto was downgraded to a 'dwarf planet' in 2006 but a recent debate hosted by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics stirred up old passions and led to a vote that overwhelmingly favored reinstating Pluto as a planet.
As Astrobiology Magazine reports:
"[Science historian Dr. Owen] Gingerich argued that “a planet is a culturally defined word that changes over time,” and that Pluto is a planet. [Dr. Gareth] Williams defended the IAU definition, which declares that Pluto is not a planet. And [Dr. Dimitar] Sasselov defined a planet as “the smallest spherical lump of matter that formed around stars or stellar remnants,” which means Pluto is a planet.
After these experts made their best case, the audience got to vote on what a planet is or isn’t and whether Pluto is in or out. The results are in, with no hanging chads in sight.
According to the audience, Sasselov’s definition won the day, and Pluto IS a planet."
Back in 2006, Bill Nye supported changing Pluto's name to a dwarf planet; after this week's debate and vote, he told The Huffington Post that "I love Pluto as much as the next guy, but it has a different origin from the traditional planets and orbits in a different plane. It might be exciting to have names for hundreds of new (very old) planets, but I would be fine with 8 'traditionals' and hundreds of 'Plutoids.'"
You can watch the debate and come to your own conclusions on YouTube.
Poor pitiful Pluto...
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