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Pluto’s ongoing identity crisis stirs planet definition debate

Pluto’s ongoing identity crisis stirs planet definition debate

If you think this is just about Pluto, you’re thinking too small

Science isn’t usually subject to a popular vote, but Pluto’s status in the Solar System has already gone through two of them. The first vote resulted in astronomers stripping Pluto of its planetary status in 2006. Last September, however, a popular vote of laypeople — the attendees of a public lecture, to be specific — concluded that decision was a mistake. While Pluto’s identity crisis is the common thread that ties these votes together, a much bigger issue at the heart of the matter is: What, precisely, does it mean to be a planet?

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