If you’re still wondering why Pluto is no longer a planet, head over Friday night to the weekly meeting of the Amateur Astronomers, Inc. in Cranford. Astrophysicist Dale Gary, PhD, professor and chair of the physics department at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) will decode the mystery of recent events in Prague. The general assembly of the International Astronomical Union voted last week to demote Pluto’s status to dwarf planet.
Gary speaks at 8:30 p.m. at the William Miller Sperry Observatory at Union County College, 1033 Springfield Avenue, Cranford. The free talk, to be held rain or shine, highlights the weekly meeting of Amateur Astronomers, Inc., a member of the United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey.
If weather permits from 7:30-10:30 p.m., the public may view Pluto as well as night skies through the observatory’s 24-inch reflector and 10-inch refractor telescopes. Trained observers will be available to operate equipment and answer questions. There is no charge for the service—although donations are welcome. Parking is free. For directions, see http://www.asterism.org.
“Pluto is no longer in the planet category,” said Gary, “but it has been formally designated a dwarf planet together with the large asteroid Ceres, and probably several other objects beyond Pluto.” Pluto will, however, continue to be recognized as the prototype of a new category of objects beyond Neptune. This category was not given a name (in a very close vote), so the category will be named only after further deliberation by the IAU.
Gary is also the director of the Owens Valley Solar Array Radio Telescope, Big Pine, CA. The author of more than 100 scholarly articles in academic journals, Gary is principal investigator for a design study for a new radio telescope array called the Frequency Agile Solar Radio Telescope. Gary’s research interests include solar and stellar radiophysics, radio astronomy, and microwave instrumentation.
Gary, a resident of Berkeley Heights, received his BS in physics from University of Michigan and his PhD in astrogeophysics from University of Colorado.