StarTalk Live! at the Beacon (Part 2): King of the Kuiper Belt

Image credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.
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About This Episode


Our show from NYC’s Beacon Theatre concludes with everything you ever wanted to know, or never thought you could know, about Pluto, the “King of the Kuiper Belt.” The evening’s main event is the debate between host Neil deGrasse Tyson and guest cosmochemist Dr. Natalie Starkey about whether Pluto is a planet or not, including a discussion of whether the definition of “planet” even makes sense anymore. The debate is judged by our comedians: co-host Eugene Mirman, Ilana Glazer and Scott Adsit. But before the gang can tackle Pluto, they’ve got to get there first, and Neil and Natalie review the New Horizons mission. Find out why New Horizons almost didn’t get off the ground, and how the fastest spaceship ever launched was able to pass the Moon in just 9 hours and travel 3 billion miles in just 9 years. As impressive as that is, it’s not as incredible as the unexpected discoveries New Horizons made once it reached Pluto, including the fact that the icy body appears to be geologically active. You’ll also hear about Pluto’s moon Charon, its fellow dwarf planet Ceres, volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io and the potential for life on Europa. Finally, as a special treat, singer/songwriter Christine Lavin takes the stage to sing her song “Planet X.” Recorded live on 9/21/15 as part of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: StarTalk Live! at the Beacon (Part 2): King of the Kuiper Belt.

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