Stephen Colbert pleaded for Pluto to be reinstated as a planet in a new interview with astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson. The 15-minute video is reigniting the debate over the status of this frozen world.
Colbert will take over duties as host of The Late Show on Sept. 8. Before that job begins, the comedian is producing a series of short online videos. As a part of this series, the host interviewed the former host of the 2014 edition of the Cosmos television series. Among other subjects, the pair discussed the arrival of the New Horizons spacecraft at Pluto, the first time any vehicle from Earth has visited the distant dwarf planet.
"It's not every day where you get to be the first eyes to set upon a completely undiscovered land. It is especially beautiful and especially exciting because no one has seen this before yesterday," Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, said.
As New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto, the icy dwarf planet displayed a large, heart-shaped feature to the cameras.
Colbert, who favors returning the distant world to its classification as a major planet, remarked to Tyson that Pluto "has a heart, unlike you." Tyson, who is a proponent of the idea that the frozen body should remain a dwarf planet, expressed his view on the subject on Twitter, accompanied by a picture of the extraterrestrial heart.
Dear Pluto, Lookin’ good. But you’re still a Dwarf Planet — get over it. Love, Neil deGrasse Tyson pic.twitter.com/qBBD9feG6e
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) July 15, 2015
New Horizons was launched to Pluto at the beginning of 2006, when that body was still considered to be the ninth planet of the solar system. Within months, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) reduced Pluto to the status of a dwarf planet.
Dante's inferno, as well as drafting in Nascar, were among the other topics that were part of the conversation between the funnyman and the astronomer.
As New Horizons continues to race away from the sun, mission engineers believe the vehicle may still be able to explore one more member of the far-flung Kuiper Belt. This collection of debris contains vast numbers of bodies orbiting near the outer reaches of our solar system.
The 56-year-old Tyson is among the most popular astronomers alive today, and many observers consider him to be the natural heir to the legendary astronomer and biologist Carl Sagan, whom Tyson met as a youth.
Here's a video of Stephen Colbert interviewing Neil DeGrasse Tyson for The Late Show.