Book of the Month September 2019

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming

by Mike Brown


As a kid Mike Brown had a fascination with planets.  While at university in California, he went on a mission to discover new objects in the Kuiper Belt at the edge of the solar system.  At the outset the work was painstaking, with no success.   But the discoveries eventually came for Brown and his research team – the first was Quaoar, then came Sedna.  By 2005 the pace was fast and furious.  Learn about the stories behind the finding of “Santa” and “Easterbunny”.  And then there was Xena, the far-flung object that at the International Astronomical Union conference in Prague in August 2006 was poised to be called a full-fledged planet, with Brown as the imminently famous discoverer.  Yet he had always expressed trepidation with the planet designation.  There were now too many Pluto-like objects.  
As the resolution to include Xena and similar objects as planets was about to be passed, a revolt ensued among the Prague delegates.  Squarely in their sights was Pluto itself.  The fateful day was August 26th, the day when a group of scientists in a show of yellow cards changed the way we look at the solar system.  Brown tells the story lightheartedly, keeping the reader apprised with the birth and raising of his first child, Lilah, while the whole story was unfolding.
How I Killed Pluto will be available at the Lamplighter Library at the September RASC meeting!

Mark Zalcik