They say you are just a dwarf planet; that you are not the largest object beyond Neptune. You were demoted and nearly forgotten. Relegated to a footnote in a science book. A blurry dot in the distant firmament.
I grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona, the town where you were first discovered. I went up the hill to Lowell Observatory and stood in the dome where a 23-year-old Clyde Tombaugh first spotted Planet X on a frigid February night. I looked up at that night sky and wondered what it must’ve felt to lay eyes on a brand new planet. Your discovery was a point of pride for our town.
Over the last 85 years, you’ve taken your knocks. Other dwarf planets pushed you out of the spotlight. Today, you finally got some respect. New Horizons, a spacecraft the size of a grand piano rocketed past you, snapping photos and measuring your chemical composition and atmosphere. And whole world saw you snap into focus. No longer a smudge, but a real place.
You may not be as glamorous as Mars or Jupiter, but now that we’ve seen you close up, maybe everyone will remember you and what you once were. You’ll always be a planet to me, Pluto.
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Jonny Eberle is a former Flagstaffian living in Tacoma, WA. You can find him on Twitter.