Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pluto spam

I'm receiving emails from former students about this whole Pluto ruckus. I'm somewhat vindicated in that I always said if you were going to call it a planet, it should be a double planet. I don't know about "plutons", though. Sigh. And really, rename 2003 UB313 already, but just don't name it Xena, or I may never be able to step back into the classroom again.

(Gotta admit, though, that I love getting these emails. They still think about astronomy! Yay!)


Kirsten said...

I've heard a number of astronomers going on about how the "big enough to be round" part of the new definition is arbitrary and strange. Is it really? To me, it seems no more arbitrary than any other definition. Care to comment?

Virtualbri said...

It's no surprise that you immediately came to mind when I read the news reports.

Seems when they did find something bigger than Pluto it was time for a rethink on the whole planet thing, but it's more odd to me that there seems to be so much resistance to even thinking about a new definition.

I guess the press could be blowing things out of proportion, but like Kirsten said, it was a pretty arbitrary definition in the first place.

I, for one, welcome our new planetary overlords.

Dr. Lisa said...


Any definition will be arbitrary, but the "orbits a star" part is generally there. It's the "large enough" part that hurts. My major issue now is that Ceres is not compositionally very similar to the outer solar system objects, so this "pluton" designation is different than our "jovian" and "terrestrial" designations. Not to mention that "pluton" already has a geological meaning. Gah!

"Big enough to be round" means that there will likely be about 50 planets in the solar system that have already been identified, but the data has yet to be published. My solar system semester just turned into a two-year course! :)