What is a Planet Exhibition at Adler Planetarium

Ten years after it reclassification, Pluto is still dogged by its lack of planet status, begging the questions, if Pluto isn’t a planet, then what is? What made the International Astronomical Union reclassify Pluto in 2006?
It isn’t like the other planets in our Solar System; it’s too small and has a peculiar orbit. However, while it may be an oddball, Pluto stands out as the underdog adored by the public. It was the first American planet. It was also the first democratically-named planet. And kids especially love Pluto—it’s little and so are they!
Should science be sensitive to the historical and cultural role Pluto has played? Or should Pluto’s sentimental defenders stop allowing their feelings to color their understanding of the Universe?
Demoting Pluto to dwarf planet status may have seemed drastic at the time, but this is not the first time astronomers have rethought what makes a planet, a planet. The accepted definition of a planet has changed a lot in the past 500 years. At various moments the term has been used to describe the Sun, the Moon, and asteroids. And would you believe that Earth—the most familiar planet of all—hasn’t always been considered a planet?!
So, how do you define a planet? As scientists learn more about how the Universe works, they make discoveries that don’t fit neatly into old ways of thinking. In What is a Planet?, visitors will discover that new approaches and perspectives in science can change how we define worlds near and far.
What You’ll See And Do:
Witness how astronomers and the media reacted to Pluto’s reclassification in 2006.
Learn what the current definition of a planet is and hear what Adler Astronomers think of the current definition.
Voice your opinion about Pluto alongside skeptics and space enthusiasts through an interactive voting poll in real time.
Explore artifacts from the Adler collections that illustrate the ever-evolving definition of a planet.
This temporary exhibition, which is included with general admission, will be open to the public from March 19, 2016 through January 8, 2017.
Included With General Admission
Adler Planetarium
1300 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL, 60605

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