Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Roll Over Pluto...

Here is a preliminary follow up to the debate over Pluto as a planet. The final word has not been spoken about this but it looks like we may have a total of twelve official planets in our solar system by the time the IAU closes its meeting in Prague. That would be all of the well known nine planets plus Charon, which is Pluto’s moon, 2003 UB313, or as it is temporarily nicknames, Xena, and Ceres, which interestingly was once considered a planet back in the 1800s but was demoted to asteroid sometime later.

The proposal also calls for new classifications of celestial objects. One is “plutons” which are Pluto-like objects that reside in the Kuiper Belt and “small solar system bodies” which were formerly known as “minor planets” which includes asteroids and comets. Neither “small solar system bodies” or “minor planets” seem sexy enough for my taste. I’d prefer something like, “mass challenged objects” or perhaps, “sub-planet thingies.” There is also just plain old “bits and pieces.”

Check out the article here.

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