Aug 24, 2006

Pluto No Longer a Planet

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Pluto and CharonLeft: Pluto and and moon Charon

(Prague, Czech Republic) Earth's leading astronomers today approved a new definition of a planet, thus downgrading Pluto's status to that of a dwarf planet.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) approved new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight. Pluto had held planetary status since its discovery in 1930.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a specialist in neutron stars who oversaw the proceedings, urged those who might be "quite disappointed" to look on the bright side.

"It could be argued that we are creating an umbrella called 'planet' under which the dwarf planets exist," she said, drawing laughter by waving a stuffed version of the Walt Disney character Pluto beneath an umbrella.

The gathered astronomers had been trying to differentiate between the eight classical planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - and Pluto, which is smaller than the Moon and has an orbit that intersects that of Neptune.

Pluto and its satellite Charon have been characterized by some astronomers as a binary planet, because they are closer in size than any other planet/moon combination in the solar system.

5 comments:

Kathleen Marie said...

Pluto not a planet? Somehow I find this very depressing. I am not sure why. Maybe it is because I grew up KNOWING that Pluto was our 9th planet. I mean, it has been embedded in me.

It would now be wonderful if that came up with some conclusive (and I am assuming this study is conclusive) about evolution. I mean, have we all evolved from apes, chimpanzees or fish? Or are we just human? I'll go with human, before and after.

SensorG said...

It does seem strange...All the science museums that must be changing their solar system displays.

BTW that happed to "Progressive Toledo"? I get a gambling site when I go there...

Dariush said...

Charon?

The boatman of the river Styx?

What an incredibly cool name for Pluto's moon.

The next object that they discover beyond Neptune, to which they choose to attach the label of "planet"... I propose that it be named "Yuggoth."

microdot said...

Say what you may, call it a spacedwarf, but Pluto will always be a big cosmic dirty slushball of love to me!

Hooda Thunkit said...

Well, now I guess that I'll have to change my vacation plans...

:-)