And then there were eight

You might have thought we had 9 planets in our solar system. If you were nerdy enough to keep up with current events (and most of us fit in that category), you might have said 12. But you'd be wrong there too - Pluto just got fired, so we are down to 8 actual planets.


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"O Whisky! soul o' plays and pranks! Accept a bardie's gratfu' thanks! When wanting thee, what tuneless cranks Are my poor verses! Thou comes-they rattle in their ranks, At ither's a-s!" Robert Burns - "Scotch Drink" 1785

One thought on “And then there were eight”

  1. I've heard the ghost of Clyde Tombaugh walking the halls in the astronomy department at NMSU, so I've always been in favor of having Pluto be a planet.

    However, it doesn't really fit into the mold of the other planets. You have the rocky terrestrial planets, you have the gaseous Jovian planets (we'll ignore the fact that they have rocky cores bigger than the Earth), and then you had Pluto. Pluto, of course, fits into neither of the two groups, has a very eccentric orbit, and doesn't have the common decency to even orbit in the same plane. There are also a whole group of Pluto-like objects out there and it isn't clear that Pluto is largest one.

    I didn't really like the earlier proposal though that would have made Ceres and Charon planets. Ceres was one of the first two asteroids discovered and is obviously just a larger version of a bunch of very similar rocks and Charon is obviously a moon.

    So, in short, it would be nice to keep Pluto as a "historical planet" or something like that, but at least there's a working definition now. I just hope they don't end up using "dwarf" terminology since that's seriously fucked up in astronomy. For instance, the Sun is a dwarf as are the huge majority of stars in the Galaxy. And then there are the red dwarfs which are stars so small they can't really be considered full stars.

    Other opinions are also welcome of course. What do you think Chris "I read the blog but don't post on it" Peters?

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