Naming Pluto: A Review

Naming Pluto, the story of Venetia Phair (© Father Films)
Naming Pluto, the story of Venetia Phair (© Father Films)

When my copy of the “Naming Pluto” DVD arrived in the post, I was very excited. However, this wasn’t the original plan.

Only a few days earlier, the short film was being aired down the road at the Los Angeles Femme Festival in Beverly Hills and the film’s writer, producer and director Ginita Jimenez had invited me along. Alas, I couldn’t be there (really frustrating as you know how much I love premiers!), so Ginita kindly posted a copy to me.

I had little idea about the history of the naming of Pluto (and I only had a general knowledge about how and when it was discovered), so I was looking forward to being educated as well as entertained.

Fortunately, I had the night to myself to watch Naming Pluto and take notes for a future review of the short film (just posted on the Universe Today). So I dimmed the lights and started the DVD. For the next 13 minutes, I didn’t write a word

It is hard to describe just how good Naming Pluto is. In 13 minutes, the entire story behind the 1930 discovery and naming of the planet (and I say planet, because as legendary astronomer Sir Patrick Moore states in the film: “…you can call it whatever you like!“) is told, with the help of leading astronomers and historians.

At the time the short film was produced, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) had “demoted” the ninth planet to a “dwarf planet”, accommodating the growing number of Pluto-sized bodies that are being discovered in and around the Kuiper Belt, over 30 AU from the Sun. Since then, a whole new class of outer solar system bodies have been defined as “Plutoids”. Add to this the growing number of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs), trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), cubewanos, scattered disc objects (SDOs) and plutinos, it’s little wonder that there might be some confusion as to how Pluto should be classified.

However, as Naming Pluto exemplifies, there is no argument against Pluto’s historical status and its standing in the hearts and minds not only of Venetia Phair, who named Pluto after the Roman god of the Underworld when she was a child in 1930, but of school children, professional astronomers and the media alike.

It is a wonderfully moving story of Venetia’s love for a planet she named nearly 80 years ago, tapping into the audiences desire to learn more about the mysterious Planet of the Underworld, Pluto.

To read the whole review of Naming Pluto, check out my Universe Today article »

For more information about Naming Pluto, check out the Father Films website »

Excerpt from the Universe Today review of Naming Pluto:
Naming Pluto explores the chain of events that lead to Pluto’s naming and in 2007 sees Venetia Phair viewing Pluto for the very first time through a telescope, on her 89th birthday, 77 years after Pluto’s discovery. A wonderful, intimate look into the story behind how Pluto got its name. A review of the short film directed and produced by Ginita Jimenez, distributed by Father Films.

If you want your own copy, or want to buy it as a gift, contact Ginita at:

Details of the film:
Title: Naming Pluto
DVD: 16:9 (FHA) (Colour)
Audio: Stereo & 5.1 Dolby
Duration: 13mins
Language: English

All images used in this review are copyrighted to Father Films 2008. All rights reserved

12 thoughts on “Naming Pluto: A Review”

  1. Hi Giseli, it’s a short film, therefore the running time is quite short. You’d be surprised just how much information can be squeezed into a film of that length though 🙂

    Cheers, Ian

  2. Kudos to you for continuing to refer to Pluto as a planet. This debate is far from over, as only four percent of the IAU voted on the demotion; most are not planetary scientists, and the procedure used violated the IAU’s own bylaws. Their decision was immediately rejected by an equal number of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. There is an effort underway to get Pluto’s planet status reinstated. For email information to contact the IAU in support of this effort, visit

  3. It would be nice to see this film, but I agree that to pay for short film isn’t good, I think a short films should be free to download or watch in video sharing portals as youtube.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: