Prague Travel Guide


Astronomers Are Gathering In Prague

Astronomers are gathering in Prague

15 August 2006, 09:35 - Travel
After 39 years, The International Astronomical Union (IAU) returns to Prague to decide whether a Pluto, first spotted in 1930, is a planet or not. Astronomers divided over whether Pluto - further away and smaller than the other planets in the Solar System - deserves the title »planet«. They are hoping to define exactly what counts as a planet in their twenty-sixth General Assembly which takes place in Czech capital from August 14 to 25, 2006.

It looks like a stalemate. »One half wants Pluto to remain a planet, the other half says Pluto is not worth being called a planet,« BBC cited Pavel Suchan of the IAU meeting's local organization committee.

Mostly Americans are against the downgrading the planet, Pluto is the only planet that was discovered by American scientist (in 1930). From 2003, we know that there is another object in the Solar System, larger than the ninth planet. Professor Mike Brown and his colleagues at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), discovered the object, called 2003 UB313. After being measured, astronomers found out that it is larger than Pluto (some 3000 km across against 2360 km of Pluto).

If the Pluto is really downgraded to something that is not labeled planet, it makes all the textbooks outdated, and changes how the basics of the Solar System are taught in schools. Other possibility is that the Pluto will be reclassified or some extra subcategory will be created.

We will - hopefully - be sure, what Pluto really is, next week, when the conference will culminate.

Astronomers come back to the city with its long atronomical history. Almost 1300 participant (which is near to a half of expected number of delegates) have passed through registration desk during yesterday. Only particint with PhD. in astronomy can come as delegates.