August 24, 2006


The fate of Pluto has been sealed. It is no longer a Planet:

Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is — and isn't — a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one.

It looks like the choice came down to either demoted Pluto or defining "Planet" so it included at least 12 objects in the solar system:

The decision at a conference of 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries was a dramatic shift from just a week ago, when the group's leaders floated a proposal that would have reaffirmed Pluto's planetary status and made planets of its largest moon and two other objects.

That plan proved highly unpopular, splitting astronomers into factions and triggering days of sometimes combative debate that led to Pluto's undoing.

"Combative Astronomer" How exciting. In the end I would rather lose Pluto than have to add three new planets. I think is the better idea won the battle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just spoke with my mom (a second grade teacher) about this and she was trying to figure out what to change the mnemonic device to... I suggested My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nothing.

Let's just say she wasn't too pleased since she's "my educated mother." I think she's going to settle for My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos.