Pluto no longer a planet
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    Pluto no longer a planet

    CNN Link

    PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) -- 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.

    Although astronomers applauded after the vote, Jocelyn Bell Burnell -- a specialist in neutron stars from Northern Ireland 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 Pluto of Walt Disney fame beneath a real umbrella.

    The decision by the prestigious international group spells out the basic tests that celestial objects will have to meet before they can be considered for admission to the elite cosmic club.

    For now, membership will be restricted to the eight "classical" planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

    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.

    Instead, it will be reclassified in a new category of "dwarf planets," similar to what long have been termed "minor planets." The definition also lays out a third class of lesser objects that orbit the sun -- "small solar system bodies," a term that will apply to numerous asteroids, comets and other natural satellites.

    It was unclear how Pluto's demotion might affect the mission of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which earlier this year began a 91/2-year journey to the oddball object to unearth more of its secrets.

    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. (Watch why some think planet size doesn't matter -- 3:39)

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

    Now, two of the objects that at one point were cruising toward possible full-fledged planethood will join Pluto as dwarfs: the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it got demoted, and 2003 UB313, an icy object slightly larger than Pluto whose discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, has nicknamed "Xena."

    Charon, the largest of Pluto's three moons, is no longer under consideration for any special designation.

    Brown was pleased by the decision. He had argued that Pluto and similar bodies didn't deserve planet status, saying that would "take the magic out of the solar system."

    "UB313 is the largest dwarf planet. That's kind of cool," he said.



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    This is kinda weird. So when they teach kids in school now...do they tell them there are only 8 planets and then 1 dwarf planet?



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    Damnit...Pluto has always been my favorite planet and now I'm crushed. I guess I have to break off Pluto in my solar system mobile I did in grade school.

    But seriously...how does something that has been a planet for my lifetime just one day "unbecome" a planet??? Must have been that powerful Anti-Pluto Lobby in DC...

    What's next...Is Venus on the chopping block?


    Last edited by cycloneworld; 08-24-2006 at 01:18 PM.

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    this is a sad, sad day for our solar system



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    My favorite part...

    For now, membership will be restricted to the eight "classical" planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
    Membership? Do the planets all have membership cards? Do they pay dues? And is someone going out to Pluto to chop up their membership card?



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    Now whenever they reference Pluto they will say "Pluto, formerly known as a planet,...". Maybe they will no longer mention Pluto.


    Last edited by franzrinkleff; 08-24-2006 at 01:35 PM.

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    the worst part is I teach 5th grade science in Texas and we just got new science text books, plastic models, and poster of our solar system. What a waste of money... Were the scientists thinking of how much money are nation will lose on bad manipulatives and text just for saying that Pluto is not a Planet?!



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    Quote Originally Posted by ISUFan22 View Post
    My favorite part...
    Membership? Do the planets all have membership cards? Do they pay dues? And is someone going out to Pluto to chop up their membership card?
    LOL...I can see it now. "Pluto, hand over your membership card...you are 3 years behind paying your dues. We sent warning letter after warning letter telling you this would happen. You shall never be a planet again." [All said while the solar system leader repeatedly rips up card]

    Quote Originally Posted by franzrinkleff View Post
    Now whenever they reference Pluto they will say "Pluto, formerly known as a planet,...". Maybe they will no longer mention Pluto.
    Pluto?!?! What is this Pluto you speak of???

    Another reason I love this site is because there are some funny people on this site and it makes my work day much more enjoyable when I read a thread like this. :)


    Last edited by cycloneworld; 08-24-2006 at 01:39 PM.

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    The latest rumor has Jupiter taking a trip to "visit" Pluto. In reality...Jupiter is just hungry and will swallow Pluto via its red eye.

    Years later, Pluto will have its revenge on the solar system - as when Jupiter passes gas, it will cause a shockwave that sends all the planets hurling towards the sun.



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    Quote Originally Posted by texaskrieger View Post
    the worst part is I teach 5th grade science in Texas and we just got new science text books, plastic models, and poster of our solar system. What a waste of money... Were the scientists thinking of how much money are nation will lose on bad manipulatives and text just for saying that Pluto is not a Planet?!
    What makes it better is I am sure the summit where they made this world changing decision that will enrich the lives of every human being was most certainly paid for with our tax dollars as well.



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    Pluto is now a member of the axis of evil.



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    Do we think Pluto will take this in orbit or is this likely to spin out of control?



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    Next on the dockett of this summitt, renaming one of the moons of Uranus to Myanus



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    one of the saddest days of my life : (


    ISU ROCKS!!!!

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    I'm hoping now that Pluto is taken care of....our sweet tax dollars could go to something like getting the tomato out of the fruit group and getting it into the vegetable group where it belongs damnit!!



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