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NOVA: The Pluto Files

Airs Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Our solar system

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Patricia Tombaugh, wife of Pluto’s discoverer.
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Above: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Patricia Tombaugh, wife of Pluto’s discoverer.

Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has held a warm place in the public imagination. So, when the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium stopped calling Pluto a planet, director Neil deGrasse Tyson found himself at the center of a firestorm -- a firestorm led by angry, Pluto-loving elementary school students. But what is it about this cold, distant rock that captures so many hearts?

In "NOVA: The Pluto Files," Tyson follows the story of its discovery and the science that surrounds this former planet, including the possibility of finding more Pluto-like planets in the mysterious Kuiper belt --an area of icy rocks at the edge of the solar system.

What's Your Favorite Planet?

Listen in as 11 planetary scientists make pitches for the "best" planet, then vote yourself.

From the scientists trying to classify Pluto to die-hard "Pluto-philes," Tyson meets a fascinating cast of characters with just one thing in common: strong opinions about Pluto. Based on Tyson's book of the same name, this program is a look at the solar system's best-loved non-planet.

View the entire program online beginning March 3, 2010.

Video

NOVA: The Pluto Files: Who Does Neil Think He Is?

Above: In "NOVA: The Pluto Files," Neil de Grasse Tyson as he follows the amazing story of Pluto's discovery and the captivating science that surrounds this former planet, including the possibility of finding more Pluto-like planets in the mysterious Kuiper belt, an area of icy rocks at the edge of the solar system. From the scientists trying to classify Pluto to die-hard Plutophiles, Tyson meets a fascinating cast of characters with one thing in common: Strong opinions about Pluto.