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This Week in Science History August 26
Aug. 24, 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted in Italy. The cities Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried in tons of volcanic ash and pumice, and an estimated 20,000 people perished. The cities remained buried for centuries and were incredible archaeological time capsules when they were discovered.
Aug. 24, 2006 Pluto was declassified as a major planet by the International Astronomical Union, the authority on all matter planetary. According to a July 27, 2009 article by Steve Battersby in the NewScientist, after days of arguments at the general assembly of the IAU in Prague delegates voted for a new definition of the term “planet” that excluded Pluto. Pluto was downgraded to a new category of dwarf planet. The decision caused public outrage as astronomers pointed out that only 4 percent of the IAU’s 10,000 members took part in the vote! Many astronomers hope that future discoveries concerning our solar system as well as a better definition of the status of “planet” will bring about greater understanding and a reinstatement of Pluto as a planet.
Aug. 27, 1883 Mount Krakatoa an island volcano in what is now Indonesia erupted. The violent explosions from the eruption destroyed two thirds of the island and huge deadly tsunami waves that swept across the region killing an estimated 36,000 people. The Krakatoa volcanic eruption was one of the largest recorded in history and had a huge global effect. The explosion was heard in Australia and the shock wave was registered by barometers in England.
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883