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IAU Demotes Pluto to 'Dwarf Planet' Status

timothy posted about 8 years ago | from the and-then-there-were-eight dept.

426

davidwr writes "It's official. Pluto's been demoted. It's now one of several 'dwarf planets.' I guess we can drop the 'Period' from 'Mary's violet eyes make John stay up nights.'" (Of course, no one says you have to privately agree with the International Astronomical Union.) Several readers have contributed links to the BBC's coverage of the downgrade, as well as the usefully illustrated story at MSNBC.

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my take on it: (5, Funny)

SomeGuyFromCA (197979) | about 8 years ago | (#15969616)

many very educated men just screwed up nine planets...

Re:my take on it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969644)

They upset the natural balance of everything! How will astrologists cope? I'm going to jump off the nearest bridge, who's with me?

Re:my take on it: (3, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | about 8 years ago | (#15969724)

I agree! Not since Brontosaurus was renamed to Apatosaurus have I been this upset.

Re:my take on it: (1, Funny)

ajs (35943) | about 8 years ago | (#15969797)

The only mnemonic that I can ever manage to remember for the planets is:

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune

And, did anyone ever really think of Pluto as a planet?! At best, it's a comet that doesn't enter the inner solar system.

Re:my take on it: (4, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | about 8 years ago | (#15969891)

Reminds me of a guy from JPL I used to know. His plates read "MVEM JSU" with a license plate holder that read "This License is NP-Complete".

What's he going to do now?

Re:my take on it: (2, Funny)

Hawaiian Rules (930159) | about 8 years ago | (#15969846)

This just in from Pluto...
...the IAU has been demoted to just a bunch of geeks with nothing better to do than reclassify frozen rocks.
...Earth astronomers destroy any chance of interplanetary relations with Uranus.
...Walt Disney may be rolling over in his grave, but Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh is surely spinning!
And... Congratulations IAU, thanks to you, anyone with born under the Astrological sign Scorpio now has no ruling planet.

Re:my take on it: (4, Funny)

Rei (128717) | about 8 years ago | (#15969904)

...Walt Disney may be rolling over in his grave, but Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh is surely spinning!

At a rate of once every six days, nine hours, seventeen minutes, and thirty six seconds.

Re:my take on it: (5, Informative)

Adhemar (679794) | about 8 years ago | (#15969856)

I wouldn't call it a screw-up.

The draft proposal was:

A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet.

Pluto would continue to be a planet, and Ceres, Charon and 2003 UB313 would become planets. However, this criterium is reached by hundreds, even thousands of other celestial bodies in our solar system. Under that proposal, all could gain planet status.

The final text is:

A planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.
A dwarf planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite.
Pluto is a dwarf planet by the above definition and is recognized as the prototype of a new category of trans-Neptunian objects.
All other objects orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as "Small Solar System Bodies".

This definition does not define the terms "nearly round", nor "neighbourhood". But having a definition, rather than just an enumeration, is in my opinion a big leap forward. Demoting Pluto is a small price to pay.

I quite like the additional criterion of dominance of a body in its neighbourhood. It's not as arbitrary as simply requiring a minimum mass or size.

On the other hand, I do not like the fact that a planet should orbit to Sun to be called a planet. On this point, I preferred the original proposal in orbit around a star. I don't see why our solar system should be any different, why planet-like celestial bodies orbitting other stars are not called planets.

Re:my take on it: (5, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | about 8 years ago | (#15969930)

One thing that annoys me is that they added "is not a satellite" to specifically exclude Charon.

Pluto orbits the sun, but it also orbits a point in space above its surface. Charon doesn't orbit Pluto, but orbits a point in space above the surface of Pluto, while it too orbits the sun. Can someone explain to me why this shouldn't be called a double?

Yeah, but.. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 years ago | (#15969892)

re: my take on it: many very educated men just screwed up nine planets...

They're diplomatic. Plutonian Objects gets the Geologists off their backs.

Ok, so no we have... (1)

pulse2600 (625694) | about 8 years ago | (#15969617)

8 Planets and 8 Dwarfs? Sounds simple enough...

Re:Ok, so no we have... (0, Offtopic)

MisterBates (880051) | about 8 years ago | (#15969835)

No Snow White?

Re:Ok, so no we have... (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 years ago | (#15969926)

8 Planets and 8 Dwarfs? Sounds simple enough...

That's Size Challenged Planets

Thank you very much...

Mnemonic device update (5, Funny)

jameseyjamesey (949408) | about 8 years ago | (#15969618)

My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nachos

Re:Mnemonic device update (-1, Offtopic)

Tebriel (192168) | about 8 years ago | (#15969707)

Your very eager mother served up something else the other night!

Re:Mnemonic device update (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969759)

damn you, you beat me to it!

Re:Mnemonic device update (0, Troll)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 8 years ago | (#15969889)

>Your very eager mother served up something else the other night!
A complete and utter lie







She was with me.

Re:Mnemonic device update (1, Funny)

legoburner (702695) | about 8 years ago | (#15969764)

not to mention all the planet posters that need updating... I am buying stock in black paint companies right now!!

Now every geek's question is... (4, Funny)

Lothar+0 (444996) | about 8 years ago | (#15969620)

How will this affect Sailor Pluto [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Now every geek's question is... (1, Informative)

DoktorTomoe (643004) | about 8 years ago | (#15969674)

Basically, in no way at all, as the manga states that "every celestial object has its Sailor Senshi" (japanese edition, volume 18.). For reference, see the later senshi-to-be Amazon quartet (based on "Dwarf Planets" in the Kuiper Belt) appearing in TV SuperS, and the Senshi that apear in "BSSSM Stars", who are based on extrasolar planets.

Just again realized what a crazy otaku I really am...

Information Correction (1)

DoktorTomoe (643004) | about 8 years ago | (#15969736)

... the gals are called "Amazoness Quartet [wikipedia.org] " in English-Speaking countries, and they are based on objects in the Asteriod (nor Kuiper) Belt

Re:Now every geek's question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969718)

How will this affect Sailor Pluto?
Sailor Uranus?

Re:Now every geek's question is... (1)

Lothar+0 (444996) | about 8 years ago | (#15969731)

Already taken [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Now every geek's question is... (5, Funny)

zyl0x (987342) | about 8 years ago | (#15969840)

Um, how about Sailor Moon? It's never been said that the Sailor Scouts have to be representative of the nine plan-- Oh my god. It just occurred to me that I'm a nerd.

MVEMJSUN (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969623)

My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nothing...

Astrologers panic! (5, Insightful)

grub (11606) | about 8 years ago | (#15969629)


So will this render all astrological predictions which took Pluto into account as invalid? I'm sure the kooks will come up with some excuse to explain how their previous charts were accurate at seeing the future as if they ~knew~ this all along.

Re:Astrologers panic! (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#15969662)

Astrologers will just keep on as before. The Astrological usage of the word "planet" includes the traditional planets as well as the Sun, the Moon, the planetoid 2060 Chiron, and really whatever else one desires to keep track of in their system of astrology.

Re:Astrologers panic! (2, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 8 years ago | (#15969795)

NPR had an astrologer on last night and he said the same thing. Their definition of a planet is different than what the 'experts' say is a planet.

Then again, when you're dealing with flimflam you can pretty much say whatever you want.

The fact that NPR had this segment only served to legitimize this nonsense and continued to give hope to the gullible that astrology is valid.

Re:Astrologers panic! (1)

October_30th (531777) | about 8 years ago | (#15969711)

Indeed. I'll be keeping an eye on the kook central [google.com] today.


My prediction is that there's going to be a lot of anger at the evil scientists who refuse to acknowledge the cosmic truth - or something.

Re:Astrologers panic! (0, Offtopic)

grub (11606) | about 8 years ago | (#15969737)

Ahaha, excellent idea! You win 300 internets!

300 internets? (1)

October_30th (531777) | about 8 years ago | (#15969751)

Do they come with large enough tubes, so that my internets won't get clogged?

Re:Astrologers panic! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969788)

Astrology is just a bit of fun, and most people are well aware of this. The people who actually believe in it are deranged enough to accept any wacky explanations anyway.

Re:Astrologers panic! (1)

MisterBates (880051) | about 8 years ago | (#15969861)

You speak of astrology as if it actually impacted anyone life.

A new one (4, Funny)

suso (153703) | about 8 years ago | (#15969633)

Much vodka easily makes John seek urination naturally

Re:A new one (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969843)

More viagra enhances my Johnson's sexual usefulness, nightly!

Why is this "breaking news" (3, Insightful)

HikingStick (878216) | about 8 years ago | (#15969637)

I just can't understand why this story of Pluto's reclassification is deemed "breaking news" on the major news websites. It's not as if it just changed orbit and was streaking straight for New Jersey...

Now that would be breaking news!

Re:Why is this "breaking news" (5, Funny)

Skye16 (685048) | about 8 years ago | (#15969663)

And incredibly freaking awesome, even if it would be an extinction level event. I don't want to die or anything, but if I'm going to, a: I want it to be in a really huge explosion, and b: I want all of New Jersey to go first.

Re:Why is this "breaking news" (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | about 8 years ago | (#15969700)

I think having Pluto crash into Trenton was going to be Gov. Corzine's last-ditch attempt to get the state legislature to approve of a 7% sales tax...in case that whole casino and goverment shut-down incident in July didn't pan out.

Re:Why is this "breaking news" (1)

knightmad (931578) | about 8 years ago | (#15969746)

I think it is because it changes something we were taught in our childhood, and took as granted. Similar to country name changes (for those unlucky African/Asian countries), currency name changes (EU/South American countries put your hands up), or measurement system changes (U.S. will eventually experience it). I bet most common people will shrug this new nomenclature and continue calling Pluto a planet.

Re:Why is this "breaking news" (1)

glebd (586769) | about 8 years ago | (#15969854)

It is breaking news for Plutonians. They are, in fact, very upset, and are going to re-classify the Earth to "not-a-star-anymore".

Re:Why is this "breaking news" (1)

jd (1658) | about 8 years ago | (#15969878)

It's more news that breaks. As in, breaks...


  • All existing school astronomy textbooks
  • All populat mnemonics for remembering the planets
  • Any sci-fi that refers to Pluto as a planet after the 21st century
  • All science museum exhibits showing the solar system
  • All astronomical software that allows you to view the planets


I'm not sure hitting New Jersey would be good, though. Could you divert it so it hits Texas, or New Orleans?

Pluto demoted? (3, Funny)

jo42 (227475) | about 8 years ago | (#15969643)

Walt Disney is turning over in his grave...

Re:Pluto demoted? (1)

PJOttawa (914629) | about 8 years ago | (#15969920)

By the way, wtf is Goofy? Pluto was always a dog with dog-like (Disney artistic licensing notwithstanding) behaviour. But Goofy? Goofy drove cars! Poorly! And got angry really easily. And so did all his Goofy clones. Demote Goofy's sorry ass.

Nine planets seemed more poetic. Now with just 8 it does seem like we're in a binary system. Or am I being 2 cubed about the whole thing?

Another nmemonic bites the dust. (0, Redundant)

MMC Monster (602931) | about 8 years ago | (#15969650)

My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas.

That changes everything (4, Funny)

Frequency Domain (601421) | about 8 years ago | (#15969652)

I learned "Mary Virginia eats many jam sandwiches under Ned's porch." Now it will have to be "...under Ned."

Re:That changes everything (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 8 years ago | (#15969698)

Is it just me or does anyone else find it harder to remember these damn phrases than it would be to just remember the planets and their order?

I wonder... (-1, Redundant)

TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) | about 8 years ago | (#15969657)

... how Mickey [go.com] is taking the news?

Mnemonics (1)

LearnToSpell (694184) | about 8 years ago | (#15969672)

That's a good one. I started forgetting planet order right about the time I lost the name of every dinosaur. Funny how the mind works.

I still remember a great one from when the USSR blew up. I think it was a contest in Games magazine or something. Anyway, it goes Gorbachev's khaki underwear always tends to ride up at long lines exiting boring Kremlin meetings. Compare with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republics_of_the_Sovi et_Union [wikipedia.org] . Amaze your friends! Fool your enemies!

Correction (1)

krell (896769) | about 8 years ago | (#15969808)

"Gorbachev's khaki underwear always tends to ride up at long lines exiting boring Kremlin meetings. "

You mean "In Soviet Russia, Gorbachev's khaki underwear always tends to ride up at long lines exiting boring Kremlin meetings."

So why does Neptune qualify? (5, Interesting)

s-gen (890660) | about 8 years ago | (#15969685)

Much-maligned Pluto doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.
So how does Neptune qualify? Seems to me it too has failed to clear its orbit... of Pluto!

Re:So why does Neptune qualify? (3, Insightful)

unjedai (966274) | about 8 years ago | (#15969775)

If you consider that comets cross the orbits of all the planets, then none of the planets qualify.

Re:So why does Neptune qualify? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969785)

Or all the other Trans-Neptunian objects [wikipedia.org] on one side, and the Centaurs [wikipedia.org] on the other! Presumably that's still "clear enough"?

And how is this definition supposed to apply to "planets" detected around other stars, where recognizing whether or not the body has "cleared the neighborhood around its orbit" is especially challenging? I assume the technical definition must have a detailed specification of what constitutes a "clear neighborhood" in the orbital sense.

Re:So why does Neptune qualify? (1, Funny)

Daetrin (576516) | about 8 years ago | (#15969822)

So how does Neptune qualify? Seems to me it too has failed to clear its orbit... of Pluto!

Pluto's response to the breaking news: "Damn you Neptune! This is all your fault! If I don't get to be a planet then I'm taking you down with me!"

Re:So why does Neptune qualify? (5, Informative)

shma (863063) | about 8 years ago | (#15969870)

Actually, while Pluto comes closer to the Sun than Neptune, they are never that close. Pluto's erratic orbit ensures that it is well above the solar system equator when it does cross. The chart here [nasa.gov] shows how far it really is at the cross (chart is in AU =~ 149 billion meters).

Re:So why does Neptune qualify? (1)

Vreejack (68778) | about 8 years ago | (#15969888)

I would assume that "clearing" does not include objects in resonance, which are actually held in position by the body in question. Pluto and Neptune are in resonance, as are any rocks that occupy Lagrange points. This rule seems to be directed against Ceres, which has so far failed to clear its orbit of a lot of other rocks (typically called asteroids).

awww (0)

trybywrench (584843) | about 8 years ago | (#15969689)

kick yourself in the head weeplanet!
*kicksself in head*
hahahahahaha

good start! next step: (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 8 years ago | (#15969690)

demote mercury to moon

elevate titan to planethood

i'm not joking [slashdot.org]

Son of a B*****!!! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969702)

I remember failing a second grade test because I missed pluto! Time I march down to the nursing home and give Mrs Johnson a piece of my mind!

Teaching about Pluto in School (2, Interesting)

totallygeek (263191) | about 8 years ago | (#15969810)

I remember failing a second grade test because I missed pluto! Time I march down to the nursing home and give Mrs Johnson a piece of my mind!


I got in similar trouble to telling my teacher that her solar system model was wrong because all of her planets were on the same plane. And, got in more trouble when I mentioned that Pluto is not the furthist planet from the sun, but rather Neptune was (at least, at that time). Of course, the worst was when I corrected a teacher whom said Saturn was the only planet with rings.

Pluto is still a planet. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969709)

Astronomers be damned. Pluto is a planet. It is Big and Round and Orbits the sun. What does orbital eccentricity have to do with it? Nothing.

Oh NoES!!!11 Pluto has a weird orbital inclination! No one cares, because everyone knows Pluto is a planet.

And "takes the magic out of the solar system"? Uhm, no. How about removing planets, does THAT not take magic out of the solar system?

Two steps forward, one step back...

Stupid (1, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | about 8 years ago | (#15969730)

As with the change of "brontosaurus" to "apatosaurus", this is completely foolish. Given the level of scientific illiteracy, what the hell is the point of taking something that everyone does know and declaring it to be wrong?

Create the new definition with a stipulation that for historical reasons, Earth's generally accepted planets will remain in the planet class. There's nothing wrong with that. It's not like any meaningful astronomy research is going to get confused.

Re:Stupid (1)

helioquake (841463) | about 8 years ago | (#15969777)

No kidding.

Besides, if Pluto wasn't discovered by Clyde Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Arizona (US), I don't think there would have been much strong objection to demote Pluto as a dwarf one.

Still it is a planet, I guess it's a compromise fro the pride.

Re:Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969787)

As with the change of "brontosaurus" to "apatosaurus", this is completely foolish. Given the level of scientific illiteracy, what the hell is the point of taking something that everyone does know and declaring it to be wrong?

Given the media storm about this, I'd imagine more people will know that Pluto isn't a planet than previously knew that it was.

Re:Stupid (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | about 8 years ago | (#15969806)

I agree. How is this going to benefit science or the public? This is the science equivalent of congress creating pointless new laws.

Pluto's just being picked on for being small... (1)

mathcam (937122) | about 8 years ago | (#15969733)

From the article:
Much-maligned Pluto doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.
They must be leaving something out... Why wouldn't this observation disqualify Neptune as well?

Re:Pluto's just being picked on for being small... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 8 years ago | (#15969753)

Why wouldn't this observation disqualify Neptune as well?



Neptune has more than enough gravity to munch up anything in its vicinity that's not in an orbit.

Re:Pluto's just being picked on for being small... (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 8 years ago | (#15969784)

If I'm driving a Civic, and you a tractor-trailer, and we're on a two-lane road, and I swerve into your lane, is it your fault?

Re:Pluto's just being picked on for being small... (2, Insightful)

Clazzy (958719) | about 8 years ago | (#15969791)

Well Neptune doesn't have a vastly odd orbit for a start...

Courtesy correction to terminology (2, Funny)

babbage (61057) | about 8 years ago | (#15969738)

Actually, "dwarf planet" is considered rude.

It prefers to be called a "little planet".

(And besides, if Pluto is going to be the dwarf planet, which planet do the elves get? Or the hobbits? Won't someone think of the hobbits?)

You mean (1)

vlad_petric (94134) | about 8 years ago | (#15969885)

size-challenged planet?

In Related News.... (1)

jhembruff (996103) | about 8 years ago | (#15969757)

Millions of grade schoolers across the nation scramble to redo their third-grade Astronomy projects

The demotion was due to this factor: (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | about 8 years ago | (#15969758)

The discovery of Sedna and 2003 UB313, both of which are very close to Pluto in size. This means Pluto is the same category of small rocky planets as Sedna and 2003 UB313, so it can't be considered the same category of planets as the other eight known planets.

Napoleon... (3, Funny)

turthalion (891782) | about 8 years ago | (#15969762)

I guess we can drop the 'Period' from 'Mary's violet eyes make John stay up nights.'

I don't like this at all.

You IAU bastards! Now, My Very Educated Mother no longer Just Sat Under Napoleon's Picture. Now, My Very Educated Mother Just Sat Under Napoleon.

You guys are sick. Leave my mother out of this.

What right do they have? (0, Flamebait)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | about 8 years ago | (#15969769)

It's amazing how a tiny group of people can hoodwink the rest of the world.

The meanings of words are not decided by vote - not even technical words. Imagine a bunch of doctors, even podiatrists, decided to redefine the meaning of the word 'leg'. Would anyone take them seriously? Of course not, not matter how expert they may be on the physiology of legs. So just because the IAU has made this vote here is no reason for anyone else to follow. The IAU, as they are free to do, have simply defined a technical usage for the word 'planet' for their personal use, but there is absolutely no reason why the public should follow. What's incredible, however, is that the rest of the word will. Despite the fact that billions of non-astronomers have been using the word 'planet' quite happily for millennia the rest of the world will simply fall into line because they have been deluded into thinking that a small astronomer elite can make linguistic decisions for them. Astronomers are experts in astronomy, not the arbiters of language.

What next? Mathematicians having a conference to decide whether or not zero is a natural number?

Re:What right do they have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969894)

What drug are you on, dude? For some of the 19th century, Ceres was regarded as a planet. Then it was realized that it wasn't really anything like any of the other known planets and if Ceres really is a planet then there is a tremendous number of other objects that would also be planets, too.

No doubt some people objected to this, on the grounds that "all through my childhood I thought Ceres was a planet, and now you bastards want to take that away from me!" or some such nonsense.

Now, it has been realized for quite a while that Pluto has very few common features with the other planets, and, more recently, that if Pluto is a planet then there are lots of other objects that would also be planets, too. (well, at least 3 others, plus no doubt more yet to be discovered).

Whine all you like, your children will think you are a dinosaur.

Re:What right do they have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969922)

I will take the flamebait.

First, the "planet" Pluto was not known until 1930, not quite a millenia.

Second, without a serious telescope, you can't see it, so the same "tiny group of people" who told you that it exists and can prove it exists are the ones taking it away.

You seem quite attached to Pluto, but your attachment is based on a century old scientific categorization that is now considered invalid by current standards. What is more important, adhering to standards, or adhering to conventions?

By your reasoning, what right did the scientists of the Renaissance have telling you that the earth was not flat, and not in the center of the universe? You obviously know better.

cool? (1)

minus_273 (174041) | about 8 years ago | (#15969770)

from TFA

"Brown was pleased by the decision. He had argued that Pluto and similar bodies didnt deserve planet status, saying that would take the magic out of the solar system.

UB313 is the largest dwarf planet. Thats kind of cool, he said."

cool?

Holst was right. (5, Funny)

telchine (719345) | about 8 years ago | (#15969782)

Gustav Holst was right all along!

Domain names taken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969783)

In case anyone was wondering, eightplanets.com [internic.net] and eightplanets.org [internic.net] are already taken.

WTFPLUTO.COM is available! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969882)

WTFPLUTO.COM is available!

Thanks GoDaddy!

Pluto needs out help ! (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 8 years ago | (#15969799)

We must immediately declare WAR on any objects in Plutos vicinity to help it restore its status as a planet.

Oh yeah, and couple billion tons of mass as development aid wouldn't hurt, either.

Wipe Uranus Out! (1)

krell (896769) | about 8 years ago | (#15969830)

"We must immediately declare WAR on any objects in Plutos vicinity to...."

This must include the two nearby gas giants, right?

Re:Wipe Uranus Out! (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 8 years ago | (#15969847)

This must include the two nearby gas giants, right?



No. Erm, wait. Do they have oil ?



Methane ? Close enough.

Mary? (1, Informative)

gafferted (560272) | about 8 years ago | (#15969811)

Most volcanoes erupt mulberry jam sandwiches under normal pressure

Andrew

why? (1)

js3 (319268) | about 8 years ago | (#15969824)

from my point of view, they didn't want pluto to be classified a planet so they created a definition which excluded pluto. I mean I can create a defintion of human that excludes certain races, it doesn't make me any less wrong.

Re:why? (1)

republican gourd (879711) | about 8 years ago | (#15969908)

The problem here is that there isn't a scientific definition that would... a) include pluto b) exclude everything else. Thusly, any definition at all (other than 'because its tradition') would cause a change in the rankings. This change is actually the one with the least strange fallout... the nearest other alternative ended up creating 3-4 extra planets, possibly including the Moon.

IAU Demotes Pluto to 'Dorf Planet' Status (0, Offtopic)

Dachannien (617929) | about 8 years ago | (#15969832)

Tim Conway fans everywhere rejoice.

From before Pluto was a planet (2, Insightful)

drfuchs (599179) | about 8 years ago | (#15969836)

Before Pluto was discovered, there was "Mother Visits Every Monday and Just Stays Until Noon". (Note that the "and" covers the asteroid belt!) Adding Pluto changed this to "...Until Noon, Period". I propose we just go back to the original.

Anyone? Anyone? (3, Interesting)

darkitecture (627408) | about 8 years ago | (#15969837)

Quick, someone who actually knows what they're doing, please give me a rough answer/calculation to the following queries:

Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.

1) - Is it possible for Pluto and Neptune to one day (like within the next couple billion years) collide? Or are their respective orbits degrading to the point where by the time they'd be near each other orbit-wise, their orbits would no longer overlap significantly? Or by 'overlap' do they mean "diagrammatically speaking, on a two-dimensional representation they overlap but even at their closest possible point they're still a squillion miles away from each other"?

2) - If so, how cool would that be? Would it be funny enough to make it onto an America's Funniest Home Videos video montage? Would it need special clown-horn-honking sound effects?

3) - Considering their distance from Earth and their relatively small size, would a collision of the two have any noticeable effect here on Earth?

4) - Seriously, how cool would worlds colliding be?! Costanza jokes aside, I think it'd be awesome to the max.

Nursery rhyme... (2, Funny)

Nemosoft Unv. (16776) | about 8 years ago | (#15969842)

Nine little planets, orbiting around the Sun, one was deemed too small, and then there were eight...
Eight little planets, orbiting around the Sun, one was deemed too big, and then there were seven...
Seven little planets, orbiting around the Sun, one had too many rings, and then there were six...
Six little planets, orbiting around the Sun, one got too close and melted, and then there were five...
Five little planets, orbiting around the Sun, one got too cold and froze, and then there were four...
Four little planets, orbiting around the Sun, one had too many clouds, and then there were three...
Three little planets, orbiting around the Sun, one had a clash with its neighbour, and then there were two...
Two little planets, orbiting around the Sun, one got bored and left with its moons, and then there was one...
One little planet, orbiting around the Sun, we nuked it ourselves, and then there were none!

Pluto's been demoted (0)

JustNiz (692889) | about 8 years ago | (#15969850)

but Mickey and Donald are right up there.

Amateur Night In Prague (2, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 years ago | (#15969857)

You know what the problem with this "What is a Planet?" debate. There is no metric. It is the case, and always has been, that whether or not something is a "planet" is a matter of almost complete subjectivity. There is still no objective, measurable and testable model under which an object can be said to be a planet.

In programming terms, the function:

bool Is_Planet( Astronomical_Object* foo );

, does not yet exist. Well, under some proposals, it would have existed in the following form:

bool Is_Planet( Astronomical_Object* foo ){

return (Is_Kinda_Big(foo) && Is_Kinda_Spherical(foo));
}


Great. Let's have a big round of applause of the boys at the IAU. Seriously, an eight year old could have come up with this. "Well, it's kinda round!". What if it's elliptical? What if it's a cylinder? Elliptical cylinder? What about Dyson Sphere's? Ringworld's? What if it has bumps? Depressions? Great big crater holes? Gentlemen What about the Death Star?

500+ years of modern astronomy and still no definition for a planet. Is this professionalism? Look at the difference in comparision to other scientific fields. The SI [wikipedia.org] units give precise, unambiguous definitions of every observable quantity in the universe. Can we get something similar in astronomy please?

OK, I'm ranting, but here's somthing that astronomers can really chew over. Is their definition of a planet falisfiable? If not, are they really scientists, or just stargazers?

Conspiracy (1)

jj00 (599158) | about 8 years ago | (#15969862)

Pluto's been demoted.

That's exactly what it would like us to think...

Still arbitary (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969866)

In truth there are three classes of planets. There are rocky planets like the Earth and Mars then there are gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn and finally icy planets like Pluto and other round Kupier Belt objects. None of the planets have perfectly round orbits so orbit is a poor watermark for planet status. Round shape and orbits the Sun are the most important features since roughly round shape denotes a certain mass. The number should increase not decrease there should simply be three classes of planets. If Pluto is to be considered little more than a large comet than the gas giants should be classed as failed stars. The definition for brown dwarf is fairly arbitary like the planet definition. It's arbitary if some compositions are called planets and others not since the remaining planets vary greatly in composition.

Piss on the IAU! (1)

Billosaur (927319) | about 8 years ago | (#15969895)

Beyond the fact that Clyde Tombaugh got eyestrain looking at photogrpahic plates trying to find the damned thing in the first place (he's doing 7200 RPM in his grave as we speak - people in Las Cruces can hear the high-pitched whine), the fact is we all grew up thinking of Pluto as a planet and this whole fracas has been nothing but a circus of uptight astronomers, lame-brained reporters, and fringe wackos.

I for one am not going to give in -- Pluto's a planet, case closed. When we go whippinng through other star systems with our handy "Guide to What Plaents Are," then this whole thing will make sense, but for right now, right here, on our lonely little mudball, it doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

Definition Contradiction (1)

nova20 (524082) | about 8 years ago | (#15969900)

Is it just me, or is the definition of dwarf planet [wikipedia.org] contradictary?

A "dwarf planet" is a celestial body that: (a) is in orbit around the Sun ... and (d) is not a satellite.

Also, here's the definition of a satellite [wikipedia.org] :

A satellite is any object that orbits another object (which is known as its primary). All masses that are part of the solar system, including the Earth, are satellites either of the Sun, or satellites of those objects, such as the Moon.

How can it be in orbit around the Sun if it's not a satellite? By this definition, no object is a dwarf planet.

Strongarm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969905)

International Astronomical Union: 'Nobody goes unloadin planets around here unless we got somethin to say about it, see?'

Schoolhouse Rock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15969911)

So who's going to re-write the Schoolhouse Rock song/video?

What about historical aspects? (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | about 8 years ago | (#15969912)

For as much as I agree with Pluto's demotion (and I DO very much), the question becomes why not think of it as a planet for historical aspects?

The only reason I mention this is because there isn't really a definition of "continent" that makes any sense.
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