Warm Up

Helpful Words and Phrases

Listen and repeat.

    • ex. I’ve always been interested in space, so I became an astronomer.
    • ex. My colleague and I have worked together for over twenty years.
    • ex. We’ve narrowed down the choices to three: chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.
    • ex. My sister believes in ghosts, but I’m skeptical.
  1. demote
    • ex. Andrew was demoted from manager to assistant manager.


Read the article below and answer your tutor's questions.

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Astronomer Michael Brown and his colleague, Konstantin Batygin, have announced that they’ve narrowed down the location of a possible ninth planet. Compared to Earth, they predict that Planet Nine is about six times bigger and 380 times farther from the sun. Brown says that it’s probably a cold gas planet like Neptune or Uranus, not a rocky planet like Earth or Mars.

Despite years of searching for Planet Nine, it’s never been found, so many astronomers are skeptical about it. However, Brown and Batygin have observed objects in the far solar system moving in a strange way. They say that new data suggests Planet Nine is real and is affecting these objects.

Pluto used to be the ninth planet in our solar system, but in 2006, it was demoted to a new category: dwarf planet. Astronomers believe that there may be hundreds of dwarf planets in the same area as Pluto, but only a few have been discovered so far. Brown was actually the leader of the campaign to demote Pluto.


Choose a topic and discuss the questions with your tutor.

Space Mysteries

  • Do you think that Planet Nine exists? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Do you think we'll ever find life on other planets? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Do you think that the Big Bang Theory is correct? Why or why not? Discuss.

Our Solar System

  • When Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006, many people were very unhappy, and some even protested in demos! Why do you think they reacted so strongly? Discuss.
  • Imagine that you can visit any planet or other object in our solar system (ex. Mars, the rings of Saturn). Where will you choose to go? Why? Discuss.
  • Do you think that we learn enough about our solar system in school? Why or why not? Discuss.