Astronomy

Defining Pluto



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Were you ever taught, My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us
Nine Pizzas? Well now it's been changed, you may want to learn this new
one: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos. The p is gone in
the second phrase! Pluto isn't a planet any more, at least that's what
astronomers say!

Since its discovery in 1930 and up to 2006 Pluto has been
considered are 9th planet, but astronomers have been having some doubts. At the
International Astronomical Union (IAU) meeting in Prague, there was a
fundamental split between those who wanted to concentrate on the
structure of a celestial object, (its shape). Or those who wanted to
emphasize on it behavior, (how it moves and affects other objects).

On August 24, 2006, the IAU defined a planet for the first time.
The definition of a planet is A) the planet is an celestial body that is
in orbit around the sun. B) has enough mass to be nearly round, and C)
dominates its orbit. Unfortunately, Pluto only fit's the first two
criteria above! Pluto is then categorized as a Dwarf Planet. After it was
reclassified, it was added to a list of minor planets and was given the
number 134340.

A Dwarf Planet is A) the planet is a celestial body that is in
orbit around the sun and B) has enough mass to be nearly round. Pluto
isn't the only Dwarf planet. In 2005, 2003UB313 was discovered. It is
slightly larger than Pluto. Other icy bodies lay in the Kuiper Belt beyond
Neptune. The argument over Pluto's classifaction, is considered by some
astronomers the Great Pluto War. Alan Stern, a principal investigator
with NASA's "New Horizons" mission to Pluto, has publicly said that "The
definition stinks, for technical reasons." Marc W. Buie, of the Lowell
observatory, has voiced his opinion on the subject, on his website and
is against the IAU.

Mike Brown, the astronomer who discovered Eris, said "through this
whole crazy circus-like procedure, somehow the right answer was
stumbled on. It's been a long time coming. Science is self-correcting
eventually, even when strong emotions are involved."

Among the general public, some people have accepted the new
classification of Pluto, others are against it. In Mexico, The U.S. state of
New Mexico's House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring
that Pluto will always be considered a planet while in New Mexican skies.
Others didn't like the change for sentimental reasons, saying that they
have always known Pluto as a planet and will continue to do so no
matter of the IAU decision.

Will you be able to accept Pluto's new fate in are solar system or
will you always consider the planet a planet? No matter what you
choose to believe, Pluto is always out there. We still have many, many
things to learn about Pluto!

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More about this author: Faith Connell

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