WAYNESBORO—It’s been nearly a decade since the controversial decision to demote Pluto to “dwarf planet” status. The debate was recently reignited when an exploratory space mission revealed new information about Pluto.

Dr. Larry Marschall, professor of physics, emeritus, at Gettysburg College, will discuss the “News From Pluto” during a program on Thursday, February 18 at 7 p.m. in the Visitors Center at Renfrew Park in Waynesboro.

The program is free and open to the public. Weather permitting, the Tri-State Astronomers club will set up telescopes for sky viewing after the program.

“Although demoted from its former status as a planet in 2006 by a vote of the International Astronomical Union, the controversy surrounding Pluto continues in light of information from NASA’s recent New Horizons ‘flyby’ of the dwarf planet,” Marschall said.

In July 2015, the spacecraft flew to within 7,800 miles of Pluto’s surface—the first spacecraft to explore the dwarf planet. Researchers learned new things about Pluto, including the fact that it is larger than previously thought.

With its new information, the historic NASA mission revived the debate around Pluto’s downgraded planetary status. A key factor in the debate is that many scientists around the world don’t agree on the definition of a planet.

Marschall will explore the new information gleaned from the spacecraft’s flyby, and discuss the controversy that still swirls around Pluto.

Marschall has a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D in astronomy and astrophysics from University of Chicago.

A professor of astronomy and physics for many years, Marschall was a visiting research scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and at Yale University Observatory. He authored a much-acclaimed book, The Supernova Story, published by Princeton University Press, and is a contributing editor for Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine and for several other professional journals.

A question-and-answer session will follow Marschall’s presentation.

This program was arranged in cooperation with the Tri-State Astronomers. It is underwritten in part by Marge Kiersz, Lucinda D. Potter, CPA, Smith Elliott Kearns & Company, and by Renfrew Institute’s Today’s Horizon Fund contributors: The Nora Roberts Foundation, APX Enclosures, Inc., and the Carolyn Terry Eddy Family: Carolyn, with daughters Connie Fleagle & Kim Larkin. Facility support is provided courtesy of Renfrew Museum and Park.

Parking is available behind the Visitor Center with additional parking in the lower lot off Welty Rd. For more information, call the institute at 762-0373 or email to:


CUTLINE: In this image from NASA, an artist’s concept of the New Horizons spacecraft as it approaches Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, in July 2015. Dr. Larry Marschall will present “News From Pluto” on Thursday, February 18 at 7 p.m. in the Visitors Center at Renfrew Park in Waynesboro. The program, sponsored by Renfrew Institute, is free and open to the public.