The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference

The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference

by Alan Boyle
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The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference by Alan Boyle

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470541906
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 10/22/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 1,182,357
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Alan Boyle is the science editor for and also appears on MSNBC news. He has won multiple awards for his science writing from the the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Association of Science Writers, and the Space Frontier Foundation.

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Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was hoping to find a great book on Pluto, in a more metaphorical sense, that described how this planet somehow became a non-planet. One thing I really insist on, is an author who knows how to write. I was severely disappointed with this one. Although this particular author is supposedly a cosmic space writer, he does not bring us into a direction of truth or understanding of why this decision was so outrageous. I'm sorry I wasted my time and money on this book. Since this was the first book for this author, I would sincerely hope he chooses another profession.
AlanBoyle More than 1 year ago
I'm the author of this book (my first!), so I have to admit I'm a little bit biased. But I tried to put forth the case honestly, drawing upon centuries of history as well as Pluto's recent "demotion" ("reclassification" might be more P.C.) and even more recent discoveries about our own solar system and the hundreds of other planetary systems beyond ours. My view isn't that Pluto should be restored as the "ninth planet," or the "littlest planet," but that Pluto and others of its tribe (as well as Ceres and possibly Vesta in the asteroid belt) should be considered planets of a sort. If you want to call that sort "dwarf planets," that's fine. In fact, I think you'll find this meshes pretty well with what a lot of experts in planetary science are saying. To rule out Pluto (and Eris, and Haumea, and all the other dwarfs) on the grounds that they're much smaller than Earth would be as silly as ruling out Earth because it's much smaller than Jupiter. And the idea of "clearing out orbits" begins to get very squishy once you look into the kinds of planets that are being discovered beyond our solar system (as well as the kinds of planets that are likely to be discovered in our own Oort Cloud). You'll find all this laid out in the book. You'll also learn about the personalities and the peculiarities behind the Pluto story. For example, you might know that Pluto was named by an 11-year-old girl (who sadly just passed away at the age of 90) and that Pluto the Disney dog was named after the planet - but did you know that the name was almost thrown out because it reminded some people of a mineral-water laxative, or that one of the first sci-fi stories about Pluto was a pulpy tale of three sexes on the mysterious planet? There are no villains in the Pluto story, as far as I can tell - just scientists who want to do the right thing, all in their own different ways. It's up to the wide scientific community, as well as the even wider public, to decide how the story eventually turns out. I hope you'll find that "The Case for Pluto" offers the best evidence to help you make your own decision.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book, which was more than I thought it was about Pluto and its demotion to a dwarf planet. I'll admit I still am in the, "Pluto is a planet" class, but I enjoyed that this book isn't about taking sides but about educating others. He discusses the build up of how Pluto was discovered to how it was demoted. From the other Pluto books I've read, this is by far the best. Very good sources of who all was involved in its reclassification and why it is so without getting snobbish. This is a good historical book. I think the title is a bit misleading, making one assume the author is making a case for Pluto as a planet, but he gives good reasons why he named it so. It also educates others on the differences between dwarf planets and planets. Overall, a fantastic job. I hope classrooms dedicated to astronomy will take a look at purchasing this for their students.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago