Can you believe that, 10 years ago, Pluto stopped being a planet? Well, a planet planet. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) made it a dwarf planet, along with Ceres (OPA, represent!), Makemake and Eris. Yes, it’s been a decade since the only time Neil deGrasse Tyson disappointed anyone who isn’t a creationist. Everyone above a certain age beat their breasts and tore at their clothes because My Very Energetic Mother no longer Just Served Us any Pizzas, much less Nine of them.
But, the world, solar system, our universe and even the rest of us moved on. Except for some NASA scientists who allege that Pluto’s demotion has reduced interest and possibly even funding into projects like New Horizons to explore it. So, they’re proposing yet another definition for planets: any self-gravitational spheroid object that’s never undergone nuclear fusion. Or, round, but not a star.
Seems good enough, right? Let’s #MakePlutoGreatAgain!
Except … that means that we won’t have just nine planets again. The new definition will encompass moons, asteroids, balls of ice past Pluto and possibly even comets as planets. Oh, the things we’ll have to make our mothers do to memorize that list!
If these scientists think dwarf planets bore people, imagine how boring planetary exploration will become if everything’s a planet. Or, stated more simply: if everything is exciting, nothing is. Such is life.
A new moon of sorts has been discovered belonging to Pluto, the dwarf planet that wants to be a full planet SO HARD. As astronomers are a picky bunch, it has yet to be given a true name (we suggest Urtaint), but scientists have currently labeled the mini-moon as P4. Logically, it’s assumed that this is because it’s Pluto’s fourth moon to be discovered; however, we wouldn’t be too surprised that it’s because the astronomers are trying to play a version of Connect Four on a galactic scale.
Thank everything that Pluto’s not a planet anymore. It’d be really dangerous for it to be a full planet with four moons.
It’s almost impossible to not like Journey’s song “Don’t Stop Believing.” It’s a heartwarming tale of inspiration full of dulcet tones and sweet melodies. Not only, it’s catchy! I mean, once you hear it, the song is in your head.
So who’s the jerk that’s been playing it to Pluto?
“We are in the midst of a conceptual revolution,” he says. “We are shaking off the last vestiges of the mythological view of planets as special objects in the sky – and the idea that there has to be a small number of them because they’re special.”
Not only that, but:
Sykes believes that missions currently en route to Pluto and the asteroid Ceres, which orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter, will reveal these dwarf planets as active and intricate worlds. Meanwhile, astronomers may find distant objects as large as Earth which the IAU would not define as planets.
So what does this mean? Well, many astronomers are now coming toward the theory that that any planet large enough to be pulled into a sphere by its own gravity should be considered a planet. Of course, by this definition, not only would Pluto be a planet, so would Ceres, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris, all currently considered dwarfs.
Way to go, guys. Everyone knows that once you let Makemake and Eris into the neighborhood, the property values plummet like there’s no tomorrow.