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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Next, we have a report on cosmic downsizing. Leading astronomers declared today that Pluto is no longer a planet. It doesn't fit their new definition, and that shrinks the solar system from nine planets to eight. But while Pluto may have been stripped of its planethood, nothing can take away its rich history.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Pluto was discovered in 1930 and named after the Roman god of the underworld. The name Pluto was suggested by an 11-year-old girl from Oxford, England named Venetia Phair. She's now 87. Other proposed names: Minerva, the goddess of knowledge, and Constance - submitted by Constance Lowell, the widow of astronomer Percival Lowell, who was the first to suggest that a ninth planet might exist.

INSKEEP: During its short life as a planet, Pluto did help to create a star - a yellow dog with floppy ears. In 1930, the same year that Pluto was discovered, Walt Disney introduced a canine companion for Mickey Mouse. The dog was given the name Pluto a year later. Disney archivists assume - though they cannot say for sure - that the pooch was named after the planet.

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INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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