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Home / Science / Queen guitarist Brian May weighs on Pluto as a planet

Queen guitarist Brian May weighs on Pluto as a planet



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Brian May visited NASA's New Horizons team in 2015.


NASA / Joel Kowsky

You may not care what Keith Richards or Jimmy Page think about Pluto's status as a dwarf planet, but when Queen guitarist Brian May talks about it, it's worth listening to.

May, who earned his Ph.D. in astrophysics in 2007, published his thoughts on Pluto late on Instagram Wednesday after learning how NASA administrator still considers Jim Bridenstine Pluto to be a full-fledged planet .

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) tightened its definition of a planet in 2006 and downgraded Pluto to dwarf planetary status, triggering a ongoing debate that simply does not rest. May is on the side of the planet.

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Well, not that I have authority … but for what it's worth, I totally agree. Pluto was discovered and named as a planet a while before my birth. At that time, it was generally understood instinctively that a planet belonged to a family of roughly spherical objects orbiting the sun (rather than orbiting around). For me, Pluto is a classic PLANET. End of the story. We can easily choose to make Pluto the outer edge of the classic planetary zone. In this case, we will have 9 planets and an ever-growing number of Kuiper Belt objects, both large and small, as they are discovered. Does anyone like my definition? It would have saved a lot of trouble 10 years ago !! Incidentally, the origins of the word planet are of no help whatsoever. The word simply means "wandering star" from the Greek, as I understand it, though Greek is not my strength! 💥💥💥💥 Let's hear it for PLUTO – the 9th planet !! If you agree, let me know – and I'll show Alan Stern – the genius that revealed the great looks of Pluto up close – through the NASA New Horizons mission. I was proud to be a very small part of this triumph. Alan's team uses a nine finger greeting (which I subscribe to) so there is little doubt which side they are on !!! Bri

Contributed by Brian Harold May (@brianmayforreal) on

"Pluto was discovered a while before my birth and named as a planet," wrote May on Instagram. "At that time, it was generally understood instinctively that a planet belonged to a family of roughly spherical objects orbiting the sun (rather than orbiting something else)."

May said he saw Pluto as a "classic planet" and suggested we consider it the outer edge of a classic planetary zone.

May has been involved in the cosmos since graduating. He teamed with NASA's New Horizons team in 2015 after the spaceship made a flyby to Pluto and wrote a song for the spacecraft in 2018 as it approached space rock Ultima Thule.

"Let's hear it for Pluto – the ninth planet!" May wrote. The IAU, which is responsible for dealing with these things, does not agree.

May's comments will not bring Pluto back into the entire planet's zone, but they illustrate the divide among scientists regarding this cosmic hot-button issue.


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