How An 11-Year-Old Named A (Dwarf) Planet

0:35 minutes

Eighty-five years ago this week, astronomers at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona sent a telegram to Harvard registering their discovery of another planet in our solar system. The news made the front page in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere, and was morning conversation in a London household where 11-year-old Venetia Burney lived. “My grandfather read out at breakfast the great news and said he wondered what it would be called,” she remembers in a 2006 interview with NASA. “And for some reason, I after a short pause, said, ‘Why not call it Pluto?’” We look back on that moment in this week’s One Last Thing.

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Segment Guests

Venetia Burney Phair

At age 11, Venetia Burney Phair suggested ‘Pluto’ for newly-discovered planet. Based in Banstead, England, U.K.

Meet the Producer

About Charles Bergquist

As Science Friday’s director and senior producer, Charles Bergquist channels the chaos of a live production studio into something sounding like a radio program. Favorite topics include planetary sciences, chemistry, materials, and shiny things with blinking lights.

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