Brad and I watched an episode of Nova two nights ago. (You, the snickering one. You stop that. Nova is cool.) In this episode, a really jolly astronomer traced the history of Pluto. Or rather, the history of us knowing about Pluto. It’s been around a lot longer than we’ve known about it, obvs.
I love a good space Nova, so I enjoyed the whole thing, but my favorite part was when a scientist chimed in with this argument about whether or not Pluto should be considered a planet, “Does it pass the Star Trek test? You know, Captain Kirk and Spock just had to look out their viewer and you could tell by looking at the planet, it was a planet.” I think this was the part that caused Brad to ask if we, as American citizens, were somehow paying to fund this man’s work and the work of astronomers in general. He apparently doesn’t think taking pictures of the stars overnight then returning to your office the next morning to look at them and see if anything’s changed from the night before is an endeavor worthy of our financial support.
I disagree. If only because, thanks to our funds, someone out there can legitimately say, “Does it look like a planet from the bridge of your starship? Then it’s a PLANET Y’ALL.”
p.s. Goldmine of gorgeous, awe-inducing images at NASA‘s site.