What happened to the girl who named Pluto?
Hello. I have a group of 3rd Grade Girl Astronomers who would like to know more about the life of Venetia Burney of Oxford, England, the former eleven year old school girl who named the planet Pluto. We have read many things about her and how she came up with the name, but cannot find anything about the rest of her life. My students would like to know if she married, what she did with her life, and if she is still living, would like to write to her. Can you please help us? Thank you very much.
Great question - I'm interested to find out now too. Unfortunately I have not been very successful. I think that what you would really need to do would be to ask some History of Astronomy experts - maybe in the UK. The Royal Astronomical Society immediately came to mind, but they do not answer questions from the general public. However they did have a link to The Society for the History of Astronomy. You could try emailing someone from that site to see what they know. In particular one of their members has a site on historical figures that could not be found elsewhere on the web, so he might be a good place to start. (from a 20th Grade Girl Astronomer)
A big thank you to all of you who helped me on my quest to find Venetia Burney Phair, who as an eleven year old school girl, named the planet Pluto. With your help, I wrote to her at the address that I believe Stuart Williams found for me. (Thank you, Stuart!) Mrs. Burney wrote us back, is now 85 years old, and my students are corresponding with her! They are so excited. I appreciate your help with this neat project.
Feb 2006 Update: Since posting this answer I've fielded several requests for Mrs. Phair's postal address in the UK, which I am happy to pass on (although it seems inappropriate to post it). One of these requests came from the BBC Horizon Research Team which was neat. Also interesting is this article: "The Girl Who Named a Planet which recently appeared on BBC News Online and features an interview with Mrs. Phair.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 25838 times since March 23, 2005.
Last modified: February 24, 2006 4:20:59 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)