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Thursday, August 24, 2006

On Sadness and the Demotion of Planetary Objects

Posted by on August 24 at 11:49 AM

I have to say, I am not at all sad that Pluto has been demoted to the lowly status of “dwarf planet.” What’s easier to love? A full-fledged planet that orbits all loopy and is made mostly of ice? Or a “dwarf planet,” first admitted to a privileged class and then cast out, like a leper, to fend for itself among the rabble of asteroids and moon-like pseudo-planets and the “icy wrecks of the Kuiper Belt.”

And isn’t this the most adorable definition ever? “Dwarf planets only have to be round.”



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Sometime Stranger cartoonist Tim Kreider had an op-ed column about just this subject in yesterday's NYTimes.

hey baby. i got a couple of dwarf planets in my pants for you.

Those ain't round. They're kinda saggy, actually.

I liked it better last week when they were going to call them "plutons".

Those clueless doofuses in the International Astronomical Union have no idea what they're doing. Last week they were going to make it 12 planets--and they were going to not only include Pluto, they were going to make one of Pluto's moons a planet!

Apparently, they were the only people on Earth who didn’t know that a MOON is not a PLANET!!

Now they want to kick out Pluto on a technicality? I bet their next move is to return to their natural habitat, overseeing elections in Florida.

"Those ain't round."

They are in Alaska!


In the interest of keeping the record straight, it wasn't the IAU that made the proposal to increase the number of planets to 12 (including Pluto's companion, Charon, which technically does not fit the classical definition of a "moon", since both objects revolve around each other in a "paired orbit"), but rather a small number of members of the IAU, who put the proposal up to the governing body for consideration. So, it wasn't a matter of them deciding one thing one day, then deciding something else the next. What came out today, was in fact the final determination, and not a backstep from a previous decision.

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