This high-interest video documents the change in the planetary status of Pluto and its attendant controversy. The story is told by Hayden Planetarium director and "rock star" scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose decision to place the planetarium display for Pluto within the icy band of objects known as the "Kuiper Belt" helped to influence the redefinition of Pluto as a "dwarf planet." This move also led to "hate mail" and critical news coverage by national media.
NOVA's The Pluto Files describes the change in Pluto's status beginning with the Hayden Planetarium controversy, the discovery of Eris and other Kuiper Belt objects , and the IAU 2006 redefinition of the meaning of "planet" along with the creation of the "dwarf planet" category. The video also documents the discovery of Pluto by "self-educated farm boy" Clyde Tombaugh in 1931, who had been hired by the Lowell Observatory to implement Percival Lowell's search for a "Planet X" beyond the orbit of Neptune. The "American" discovery of Pluto is placed within a historical framework beginning with Copernicus in the 16th century through Galileo, Huyghens, and the disputed discovery of Neptune. The decision by Mike Brown in 2005 to name his discovery of a Kuiper Belt world larger than Pluto as the "tenth planet" further served to exacerbate the "Pluto problem", and served as the final catalyst towards the IAU's decision to "demote" Pluto.
The story unfolds as a road trip, where Dr. Tyson visits Harvard University, Disneyworld, a barber shop in Streator, Illinois, and Clyde Tombaugh's family in New Mexico. Pop culture aspects of Pluto are also shown such as the early association of Pluto with "Pluto Water" (a laxative), and Walt Disney's creation of "Pluto the Pup" shortly after the discovery of the "ninth planet." Pluto's name was also selected by an English schoolgirl who prompted her grandfather to write to the Lowell Observatory after reading about the discovery in a newspaper.
The pdf contains a two-sided video worksheet consisting of 48 multiple choice question, along with an answer key. You will need to obtain a DVD of the video, or use the PBS Internet site or YouTube