Friday, August 25, 2006

Pluto is officially dead

It is official. Pluto is now no longer a planet, the International Astronomical Union revealed today after a historic vote. That means there are now only eight planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. From Space.com:
The decision establishes three main categories of objects in our solar system.

* Planets: The eight worlds from Mercury to Neptune.
* Dwarf Planets: Pluto and any other round object that "has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit, and is not a satellite."
* Small Solar System Bodies: All other objects orbiting the Sun.

Pluto and its moon Charon, which would both have been planets under the initial definition proposed Aug. 16, now get demoted because they are part of a sea of other objects that occupy the same region of space. Earth and the other eight large planets have, on the other hand, cleared broad swaths of space of any other large objects.

"Pluto is a dwarf planet by the ... definition and is recognized as the prototype of a new category of trans-Neptunian objects," states the approved resolution.
But not all astronomers agree with the approved resolution. Some are unhappy with the wording for it, with one astronomer calling it "a farce". They are even calling the astronomy community to overturn the decision. Ah, astronomy is so exciting.

Update:

The widow of the Pluto discoverer said that her husband would have accepted the news with scientific detachment. She said, "Well, we had a job to do -- a position with the whole community, the whole world for that matter. We did our thing and now it's over, I guess." (Thanks Shy)

Astrologers meanwhile foretell no major changes despite the demotion of Pluto. One said, ""It's very interesting that Pluto's been downgraded in a planetary sense because he could never be downgraded in a mythological sense. I will continue to use Pluto because he gives me the ability to look into people's charts and see where they're coming from psychologically." (Thanks Sir Thomas)

5 comments:

Sir Thomas said...

I would prefer Pluto to be in. It has such a sentimental value to most people but I guess in science, sentimental value goes out of the window.

kwannick said...

Does this mean that astrologers are fucked?

Since not 9 planets but 8 now, the so-called "study" of stars and planets would have to be revised and books all re-written?

Reminds me of last book in hitchiker's guide "mostly harmless"...

Shy said...

Poor Pluto.

Anonymous said...

Hehe at least one less planet for kids to learn.

finatiq said...

Race is on for the first revised solar system book to be published.

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