Arizona’s Cosmic Connection: The Push to Make Pluto the State’s Official Planet

Pluto was once considered the ninth planet in our solar system and it’s now at the heart of an interesting piece of legislation in Arizona. Justin Wilmeth, a Republican from Phoenix, has put forward a new bill. This bill wants to name Pluto as the official state planet of Arizona. This links Arizona’s deep-rooted connection with astronomy to how it sees itself in terms of laws.

Wilmeth’s Advocacy for Pluto

Congressman Wilmeth isn’t simply campaigning to acknowledge a space object when he talks about Pluto. He’s highlighting how important Arizona has been in the field of astronomy. After visiting the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, he was struck by the fact that Pluto is the only planet found in the US. Even though the International Astronomical Union (IAU) now calls it a ‘dwarf planet,’ Wilmeth believes that its discovery and connection to Arizona deserve recognition.

Historical Significance of Pluto in Arizona

    • The Discovery:

Pluto was discovered at Lowell Observatory in 1930, marking a major achievement in American astronomy. This discovery, made during the challenging times of the Great Depression, brought national attention to Arizona.

    • The Discoverer:

Clyde W. Tombaugh, an assistant at the observatory, used a rudimentary telescope for this groundbreaking discovery, which was initially dubbed “Planet X.”

Pluto: Beyond Astronomy

Wilmeth’s initiative transcends astronomical significance. On social media platforms like X, the lawmaker has engaged in discussions, highlighting Pluto’s role in Arizona’s history and its potential to spark interest in space and astronomy among the public. His proposal is not just a nod to the past but also a step towards encouraging future scientific curiosity.

Challenges and Controversies

The path to making Pluto an official state symbol is fraught with challenges. Past efforts to name state symbols have stirred both light-hearted debates and serious controversies. For instance, the designation of the Colt single-action Army revolver as the state firearm in 2011 sparked significant dissent. Wilmeth’s proposal, though unique, joins a long line of attempts to recognize Arizona’s diverse cultural and historical elements.

Legislative Journey and Public Reaction

The success of the Pluto bill, known as Bill HB 2477, hinges on the support of Wilmeth’s legislative colleagues and the approval of Governor Katie Hobbs. The bill has already attracted attention, sparking conversations and jokes alike on social media. Whether it will sail through smoothly or face hurdles remains to be seen.

The Cultural Impact of Pluto’s Designation

The proposal to make Pluto the official state planet goes beyond legislative halls; it touches the cultural and educational fabric of Arizona. Such a designation could inspire a new generation of astronomers and scientists, fostering a deeper interest in space exploration and astronomical studies within the state. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of scientific endeavors and their lasting impact on society.

Reflection on State Symbols

Arizona’s list of official state symbols is a mosaic of its history and culture, ranging from the cactus wren as the state bird to turquoise as the state gemstone. These symbols serve as more than mere formalities; they reflect the state’s identity and values. The addition of Pluto to this list would not only honor a significant astronomical discovery but also symbolize the state’s commitment to recognizing its unique contributions to science and history.

Community and Educational Engagement

The discourse surrounding Pluto’s potential designation has sparked interest and engagement among Arizonans. Schools and communities could use this opportunity to delve into the state’s astronomical heritage, encouraging educational programs and activities centered around Pluto and space science. This bill has the potential to turn a legislative decision into a catalyst for educational enrichment and community involvement.


Lawmaker Wilmeth’s idea to make Pluto Arizona’s state planet is not just a legal step. It’s also a nod to Arizona’s history in space and honors an important moment in science. As this proposal goes through government approval, we’re reminded of how special Arizona is in the grand scheme of things and our ongoing wonder about space. Read More.