Justin Wilmeth, Representative, Proposes Teaming Up with Pluto to Become Arizona’s State Planet

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Arizona State Representative Justin Wilmeth has proposed a bill to honor the discovery of Pluto at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff by designating it as Arizona’s official state planet. This initiative aims to commemorate one of the most important moments in the history of astronomy in the United States, despite the current classification of Pluto as a ‘dwarf planet’ by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Pluto: A Legacy of Discovery

In 1930, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, working at the Lowell Observatory, discovered Pluto, which was then considered the ninth planet in our solar system. This discovery remains significant as it was the only instance of a planet being discovered within the United States, establishing a strong connection between Arizona and Pluto. However, in 2006, the IAU reclassified Pluto as a ‘dwarf planet’ following further research and the identification of the Kuiper Belt, a vast disc beyond Pluto’s orbit.

Wilmeth’s Proposition: A Nod to History

Representative Wilmeth’s bill is influenced by his personal experience during a time when Pluto was recognized as the ninth planet. The bill aims to give Pluto the recognition it deserves within Arizona. Representative Wilmeth is known for advocating passionately for the preservation of historical and cultural legacies. He believes that designating Pluto as Arizona’s official state planet will represent the state’s rich history in the field of astronomy.

Potential Hurdles in the Legislative Path

The success of the Pluto bill relies on the support of Representative Wilmeth’s colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as the approval of Governor Katie Hobbs should it progress that far. The process of designating official state symbols in Arizona has seen both controversy and difficulty in the past. Some proposals have easily passed, while others have sparked intense debates. Since this bill aims to designate a celestial body as a state symbol for the first time, it is likely to add an interesting dimension to these discussions.