Pluto still seen as full-fledged planet |

Pluto still seen as full-fledged planet

SANTA FE, N.M. ” Astronomers may have stopped calling Pluto a full-fledged planet, but it’s on its way to regaining that status whenever it’s visible over New Mexico.

A nonbinding memorial approved this week by the state House of Representatives declares that Pluto be designated a planet whenever it “passes overhead through New Mexico’s excellent night skies.”

The International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet last August because its orbit overlaps with Neptune’s. That caused hard feelings in New Mexico, home of Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer who located Pluto in 1930.

“We really took it as an affront,” said Democratic Rep. Joni Marie Gutierrez, who introduced the memorial.

The measure was pending in the Senate as lawmakers go into their final day of work Saturday.

Patricia Tombaugh, the 94-year-old widow of Pluto’s discoverer, said the memorial probably won’t change any scientific minds. “But it’s a very nice gesture,” she said.

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