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The Pluto Files

The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet

The Pluto Files book cover, which has in illustration of the sun on the bottom, and each planet in a vertical line bisecting the cover.

Gathered here in one place is a record of Pluto’s rise and fall from planethood, given by way of media accounts, public forums, cartoons, and letters I received from disgruntled school children, their teachers, strongly opinionated adults, and colleagues.

In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted Pluto out of planethood. Far from the sun, tiny, and eccentric in orbit, it’s a wonder Pluto has any fans. Yet during the mounting debate over Pluto’s status, Americans rallied behind the extraterrestrial underdog. The year of Pluto’s discovery, Disney created an irresistible pup by the same name, and, as one NASA scientist put it, Pluto was discovered by an American for America. Pluto is entrenched in our cultural, patriotic view of the cosmos, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is on a quest to discover why.

Only Tyson can tell this story: he was involved in the first exhibits to demote Pluto, and, consequently, Pluto lovers have freely shared their opinions with him, including endless hate mail from third graders. In his typically witty way, Tyson explores the history of planet classification and America’s obsession with the “planet” that’s recently been judged a dwarf.

Available from

  • Link to book at IndieBound.org.
  • Link to book at Amazon.
  • Link to book at Barnes and Noble.

Any referral fees received from these sellers are sent to educational charities each year.

Publisher details

Hardcover

January 2009

W. W. Norton & Company

224 pages

Paperback

December 2009, September 2014

W. W. Norton & Company

208 pages

eBook

July 2010

W. W. Norton & Company

2.8 MB

Audiobook

January 2009

Blackstone Audio, Inc.

4h 22m