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House Joint Memorial 54
48th Legislature - State of New Mexico - First Session, 2007
Introduced By
Joni Marie Gutierrez

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.

As far as New Mexico's concerned, the IAU can't tell them what's in their excellent night skies.

On March 13, 2007, New Mexico lawmakers voted unanimously (70-0) to reinstate Pluto's status as a planet, and to declare that day, the birthday of Percival Lowell, who first proposed the existence of a Planet X beyond Neptune, to be Pluto Planet Day.

New Mexico has always been particularly fond of Pluto. The former planet was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, a New Mexican from Dona Ana County, which the member who proposed the bill represents. And, as the endless WHEREAS' of the legislation1 point out, New Mexico prides itself on its astronomy.

That pride was evidently injured in August, 2006, when the International Astronomical Union voted that a planet must "gravitationally dominate" its orbit. Pluto, therefore, could no longer be called a planet because its orbit famously overlaps that of Neptune. (The obvious question of why Neptune can still be called a planet under these circumstances is one I would love to hear an answer to.)

So, though the rest of the world may sneer and laugh at Pluto, the planetary Rudolph, for as long as it is in New Mexico's night sky, it can still orbit proud.


creases says: The orbits of Neptune and Pluto don't overlap; it only looks that way when you have a flat projection. Pluto's orbit is longer and narrower, so it fits inside Neptune's orbit along its width. I think the "dominate its orbit" part refers to the presence of other objects of significant mass in Pluto's neighborhood, not to its proximity to Neptune. Ref http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clearing_the_neighbourhood. Thank you for clearing that up!

1 The full text of the legislation is at
http://legis.state.nm.us/Sessions/07%20Regular/memorials/house/HJM054.html or at
http://legis.state.nm.us/Sessions/07%20Regular/memorials/house/HJM054.pdf

Other references:
http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2007/03/72927
http://www.wired.com/science/space/news/2006/08/71650

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