Pluto: The non-ringed non-planet

Listen 07:42

We begin with the story of Spitz Laboratories, based in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. In the 1960s, the space race kicked off a nationwide surge of interest in astronomy. Schools began to build planetariums, and in Pennsylvania Spitz Laboratories built so many that in the 60s and 70s Pennsylvania had more in-school planetariums than New York and California combined.

Scientists have declared conclusively that Pluto has no rings. This is good news for their Horizons mission, as it means fewer obstacles for the craft to navigate as it heads towards its next destination, a space rock in the Kuiper belt.

Mars and Venus are visible in the predawn sky. Saturn can be seen in the Southwest after sunset.

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