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Queen guitarist Brian May weighs in on Pluto as a planet

The rocker has a doctorate in astrophysics.

nh-brian-may-conference

Brian May visited with NASA's New Horizons team in 2015.

NASA/Joel Kowsky

You might not care what Keith Richards or Jimmy Page think about Pluto's status as a dwarf planet, but when Queen guitarist Brian May speaks up about it, it's worth a listen. 

May, who received his doctorate in astrophysics in 2007, posted his Pluto thoughts on Instagram late Wednesday after hearing about how NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine still thinks of Pluto as a full-on planet

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) tightened up its definition of a planet in 2006 and demoted Pluto to dwarf-planet status, sparking an ongoing debate that just won't rest. May is on the pro-planet side of the argument. 

"Pluto was discovered and named as a planet awhile before I was born," May wrote on Instagram. "At that time it was generally instinctively understood that a planet was one of a family of roughly spherical objects that orbited the sun (rather than orbiting something else)."

May said he sees Pluto as a "classical planet" and suggested we consider it the outer edge of a classical planet zone. 

May has stay involved in the cosmos since receiving his degree. He hung out with NASA's New Horizons team in 2015 after the spacecraft went in for a flyby of Pluto and wrote a song for the spacecraft in 2018 as it approached the space rock Ultima Thule.

"Let's hear it for Pluto -- the 9th planet!" May wrote. The IAU, which is responsible for handling these things, doesn't agree. 

May's comments won't swing Pluto back into the full-planet zone, but it does highlight the divide among scientists on this cosmic hot-button topic.