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Saturday, December 15, 2012

The World Doth Revolve Around New Mexico


Pluto. Credit: NASA.


... and as such, New Mexico did decree Pluto a planet in 2007.

In case you missed the news from a few years back, a scientific brouhaha broke out over whether or not Pluto really was a planet, and at the end of the day, Pluto was demoted.

This was New Mexico's response:   

HOUSE JOINT MEMORIAL 54
48th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2007
INTRODUCED BY
Joni Marie Gutierrez
A JOINT MEMORIAL
DECLARING PLUTO A PLANET AND DECLARING MARCH 13, 2007, "PLUTO PLANET DAY" AT THE LEGISLATURE.

    WHEREAS, the state of New Mexico is a global center for astronomy, astrophysics and planetary science; and WHEREAS, New Mexico is home to world class astronomical observing facilities, such as the Apache Point observatory, the very large array, the Magdalena Ridge observatory and the national solar observatory; and
    WHEREAS, Apache Point observatory, operated by New Mexico state university, houses the astrophysical research consortium's three-and-one-half meter telescope, as well as the unique two-and-one-half meter diameter Sloan digital sky survey telescope; and
    WHEREAS, New Mexico state university has the state's only independent, doctorate-granting astronomy department; and
    WHEREAS, New Mexico state university and Dona Ana county were the longtime home of Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto; and
    WHEREAS, Pluto has been recognized as a planet for seventy-five years; and
    WHEREAS, Pluto's average orbit is three billion six hundred ninety-five million nine hundred fifty thousand miles from the sun, and its diameter is approximately one thousand four hundred twenty-one miles; and
    WHEREAS, Pluto has three moons known as Charon, Nix and Hydra; and
    WHEREAS, a spacecraft called new horizons was launched in January 2006 to explore Pluto in the year 2015;
    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that, as Pluto passes overhead through New Mexico's excellent night skies, it be declared a planet and that March 13, 2007 be declared "Pluto Planet Day" at the legislature. 


I learned this astonishing factoid at an event at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, facilitated by the Amateur Astronomers Group of Alamogordo. I learned more stuff, too, which I will share soon, but for now, I am just laughing too much.

It's almost as good as Missouri wanting to make it illegal for educators to use the terms BCE and CE instead of BC and AD. Did that proposal ever pass? I don't know. Sometimes I just don't want to know these things.



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