Friday, August 18, 2006

And then there were 12

When humans set their mind to it, they can do almost anything. For decades we have been informed that there are 9 planets in our solar system, with Pluto occupying a very special place, inspite of its highly elliptical and off-plane orbit. But if you thought it was set in stone, you were dead wrong. With one meeting of many minds, the International Astronomical Union's specially appointed Planet Definition Committee has decreed that the definition of a planet needs to be revised. Actually, it appears that a planet has never been properly (scientifically) defined and the PDC has put together a proper definition. This definition is also just as arbitrary, but who are we to comment on this? Anyway, this is the gist of the new definition:
(A planet is ) an object...massive enough that gravity has formed it into a sphere and that it circles a star and not some other planet.
With that one decision we now have 12 planets in our solar system. I wouldn't rush to re-write the astronomy books, if I were you. I doubt that this change will be accepted without a little bit of discussion and a vote scheduled for August 24th. In the end, honestly, who cares if we have 9 or 12 planets, except for astronomers and astrologers, of which I am neither.

1 comment:

Buck said...

well, now there are 8 and poor Pluto has been relegated to being a dwarf planet....wonder whether any astrologer identified Pluto as the governing planet for anyone???