spacemutants said: So Hank, what's the deal with Pluto right now? Is it a planet or not?
Pluto is not a planet. The IAU (in my book) gets to decide what the definition of a planet is because there has to be a definition and they are by far the most qualified body to define it.
Pluto does not meet that definition, and thus should not be considered a planet. I agree with their definition, but even if I didn’t I would submit to it because I am not an expert.
Recently, three people sat in a room and argued about whether pluto was a planet. The audience then voted…and they voted that Pluto was a planet. That, of course, means nothing. If you want random groups of people to define scientific terms…it’s going to be hard to get any actual science done.
But a lot of planetary scientists agree that pluto (and eris and ceres and haumea and makemake and charon) are definitely planets. We have probably 200 bodies in our solar system that are similar enough to all be considered planets. We should probably take the same attitude to memorizing planets as we do to memorizing rivers. We should all know the planetary equivalents of the Nile, the Mississippi the Amazon, and the Euphrates, but maybe not all the smaller ones. That doesn’t make those smaller rivers not rivers, though.
I’m citing an interview with planetary scientist, Alan Stern, from Big Picture Science. http://www.bigpicturescience.org/episodes/A_Sudden_Change_in_Planets
WHY ARE NONE OF YOU FUCKERS FLIPPING SHIT?!?
NASA HAS DECLARED PLUTO A PLANET AGAIN
IT HAS MOONS!!!!! IT HAS MOONS!!!!!!!
WHAT. WHAT! PLUTO YOU FUCKING DID IT!
VIVA LA PLUTO, YOU DID IT!!!
A public debate. Cannot alone declare. A celestial body. A planet. That is a job for the International Astronomical Union, the IAU. We’ve known that Pluto has moons for a looooong time now, we knew it when the IAU declared Pluto a dwarf planet, that is not in itself enough to call it a —
Look. Look, you guys. I really cannot understand why you guys get so worked up about this, aside from “oh no, a thing I learned in school turned out to be wrong and now I don’t trust my education.” So what?! We all learned a heap of bullshit about Squanto (not his name) and the Puritans and the first Thanksgiving, and that didn’t exactly cause us to tear up our high school diplomas and set fire to the state board of education.
Pluto still exists, its whacky orbital path remains unchanged, and, hey, we are STILL very interested in Pluto! The New Horizons mission is set to do a fly-by of the Pluto system in July 2015, which will probably give us all KINDS of new data about Pluto, the Kuiper Belt, and the Oort Cloud. Pluto is getting as much, if not more, attention than much closer worlds like Venus, Europa, and Titan. In fact, New Horizons is actually one of the higher-profile NASA missions right now.
NASA hasn’t forsaken Pluto or deemed it unworthy of study. In fact, if they had, they probably wouldn’t have even bothered with the debate over its designation!
So what the fuck are you guys ACTUALLY so offended about?
Seriously though, ask a planetary scientist, and they’ll tell you we have hundreds of planets. “Dwarf planet” is just a way of describing its size in the way that “gas giant” is a way of describing the size of Jupiter — they are both still planets. Pluto was always a planet. No one kicked it out of a club, no one blew it up. This whole debate is basically about how many big planets we have, and which planets are important enough to have kids memorize.
Imagine we did something even vaguely similar with rivers:
"Hey kids, you have to memorize all the rivers in the world",
"But there’s thousands of them”
"Don’t worry, only eight of them count! The rest are dwarf rivers " :D
"… that’s fucking stupid, teach." o___o
I think the list kids should memorize goes like this:
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Asteroid Belt (extra credit for Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea), Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Kuiper Belt (extra credit for Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Quaoar), Oort Cloud (extra credit for Eris, Sedna, and any of the other uncountably many objects of planetary mass out there).
I’m not actually even sure the IAU’s rules for planet/dwarf planet make any sense :/. Orbits around the Sun is fine — though, does Luna not primarily orbit the sun? Planetary mass is fine — that’s the mass necessary to pull the shape of a space rock into a sphere, and I don’t want any lumpy planets. But “has cleared the neighborhood of its orbital zone” is an insane metric. By this metric, neither Earth nor Mars nor Neptune nor Jupiter are planets. Neptune hasn’t managed to clear Pluto from its orbital zone (remember Pluto’s weird orbit?); Mars hasn’t managed to clear parts of the Asteroid belt from its orbital zone; Jupiter and Earth are similar in that they both coorbit with thousands of Trojan Asteroids. A much better definition would be “is more massive than all other objects in its orbital path” but whatever, I don’t work for the IAU. :/
I just looked at my stats on ListenOnRepeat.com and I’ve been listening to Pon Pon Pon for 4.7 hours (which is only since the most recent time I put it on repeat) :/
I’m starting to really feel like I’m at あの交差点…