March 13th in history:

Attorney Clarence Darrow, the defense lawyer at the Scopes “Monkey” trial, died on this date in 1938. It was exactly 13 years after the day the Tennessee House voted to ban the teaching of evolution in state schools. Passage of that law led to the Scopes trial.

A major scientific discovery on March 13th, 1781: Astronomer William Herschel announced that he had found the planet Uranus. It was the first planet in the solar system to be discovered by telescope.

And on this date in 1930, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh announced to the Harvard College Observatory that he had discovered a ninth planet, which would be named Pluto. In 2006, Pluto was downgraded to the status of “dwarf planet.”



  1. Laurel Kornfeld

    Please do not blindly accept the controversial downgrading of Pluto by four percent of the IAU, most of whom are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. This debate is still very much ongoing, and the IAU position is only one interpretation in this controversy, not some sort of gospel truth. Many scientists and lay people are working even now to overturn the demotion or are ignoring it altogether.

  2. Kenny Bunkport

    …ignoring it altogether – because that is how science gets done.

    you can ignore the fact that Pluto’s orbit does not match that of the other 8 planets. It is not in the same plane and it crosses the orbit of Neptune.

    you can ignore that it is small, cold and rocky – which does not match the trend of large, gas-giant planets at the outer reaches of the solar system. The proximity of the inner planets to the sun affects the atmosphere and removes much of the gaseous formation of the outer planets. There is no explanation how this would have happened for Pluto at such a great distance away from the sun.

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