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Alan Boyle

The case for Pluto

Many of us will have grown up learning that there were nine planets, but Pluto has never really fit in, and recently has lost its status as a planet. In The case for Pluto: how a little planet made a big difference Alan Boyle tells the story.

Neptune had been discovered based on its gravitational effects, and it seemed that there had to be another planet out there, causing similar effects. In 1930 Pluto was discovered, but it was soon realised that it was nowhere near as big as it should be - should it still count as a planet. The discovery of its moon Charon enhanced Pluto's status for a while, but it was gradually realised that there were likely to be many other objects similar to Pluto, and indeed in 2003 an object larger than Pluto was found. Then there's the asteroids - it's hard to find a definition of a planet which includes Pluto but excludes Ceres. And what about Exoplanets, do they all deserve the 'Planet' tag? Boyle tells of the IAU meeting which was supposed to resolve the status of Pluto, but how arguments continued for quite a while afterwards.

It's a well written book, easy to read, and whilst not a children's book, it's accessible to a high school student. I think it would make an excellent gift to anyone you know who's keen on astronomy. info
Hardcover 272 pages  
ISBN: 0470505443
Salesrank: 2107293
Published: 2009 Wiley
Amazon price $22.95
Marketplace:New from $10.95:Used from $2.82
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Hardcover 272 pages  
ISBN: 0470505443
Salesrank: 885888
Weight:0.7 lbs
Published: 2009 John Wiley & Sons
Amazon price £15.36
Marketplace:New from £13.98:Used from £0.01
Buy from info
Hardcover 272 pages  
ISBN: 0470505443
Salesrank: 2735283
Weight:0.7 lbs
Published: 2009 Wiley
Amazon price CDN$ 30.32
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 24.11:Used from CDN$ 0.69
Buy from

Product Description
In support of Pluto-the cutest and most unfairly treated planet

Pity poor Pluto: It's a planet that was discovered because of a mistake, a planet that turned out not to be a planet at all, thanks to a still-disputed decision made in 2006. And yet, Pluto is the planet best-loved by Americans, especially children, one that may have contained the building blocks of life billions of years ago and may well serve as life's last redoubt billions of years from now.

In The Case for Pluto, award-winning science writer Alan Boyle traces the tiny planet's ups and downs, its strange appeal, the reasons behind its demotion, and the reasons why it should be set back in the planetary pantheon.

  • Tells the compelling story of Pluto's discovery and how it became a cultural icon
  • Makes the case for Pluto as planet, countering the books that argue against it
  • Comes in a small, friendly package — just like Pluto — and features a handsome design, making it a great gift

The Case for Pluto is the must-read tale of a cosmic underdog that has captured the hearts of millions: an endearing little planet that is changing the way we see the universe beyond our backyard.

Alan Boyle is’s science editor and the award-winning blogger behind Cosmic Log. He’s been a talking head on NBC’s The Today Show and the MSNBC cable channel, holding forth on scientific subjects ranging from the chances of an asteroid Armageddon to the 3-D wizardry behind the “Harry Potter” movies. But he writes better than he talks.