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The Pluto Question

Far from the Sun and smaller than Earth’s Moon, Pluto went undiscovered until 1930, when it was hailed as the most distant planet. Since relegated to the status of “dwarf planet,” it remains one of the more mysterious bodies in the Solar System. Launched in 2006 on a decade-long voyage to Pluto and its moons, the New Horizons mission will help scientists determine whether Pluto is in fact a planet — and how the meaning of that term is evolving as we learn more about objects on the outskirts of the solar system.

Support for the development of Science Topics was generously provided by Sidney and Helaine Lerner, GRACE Communications Foundation.


The Surface of Pluto

Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has remained one of the more mysterious bodies in the Solar System. In 1996, the Hubble Space Telescope observed Pluto, taking snapshots as it rotated through its 6.4-day period.


Newton vs. Einstein vs. The Next Wave

To what lengths do scientists have to go to snare a gravitational wave?


Meet the Curator

Dr. Shara and his research group are conducting an exhaustive survey to inventory and "weigh" all 100,000 stars nearest to Earth. 

New Horizons encounter with Pluto

New Horizons Passes Pluto

Museum visitors watch space exploration history made live alongside mission control.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the 10th

Neil deGrasse Tyson Hosts PBS Special Examining Pluto

Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, is featured in a new documentary airing on PBS that examines the fascination with Pluto and how the world reacted once Tyson stopped referring to it as a planet.

Emily Rice

From the Field - Emily Rice

Blogging from Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, Emily Rice, a research scientist in the Museums Department of Astrophysics, is working with a collaborator to model the atmospheres of low-mass stars, brown dwarfs, and giant gas planets, including descriptions of their chemistry and clouds.

Kuiper Belt Object

Gerard Kuiper and the Trans-Neptunian Comet Belt

A dusty snowball is orbiting the Sun, trailing gas and dust as it melts.


Hubble Tracks the Seasons of Pluto

NASA recently released images of Pluto taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2002 and 2003. When compared to images from 1994, the new images show distinct seasonal stages in Pluto's 248-year orbit around the Sun.

Hayden Planetarium

Hayden Planetarium

At the heart of the Rose Center for Earth and Space is an 87-foot-diameter sphere that appears to float inside a glass cube. Its upper half constitutes the Hayden Planetarium, which opened in 2000 along with the Rose Center for Earth and Space.

Hayden Big Bang Theater

Hayden Big Bang Theater

The lower half of the Hayden Sphere is home to the Hayden Big Bang Theater, where visitors can look down into a concave screen to view the Big Bang presentation.

American Museum of Natural History

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Phone: 212-769-5100

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