Monday, March 12, 2007

Enumeration: The Last Straw

Poor, poor Pluto, I knew him well.
He once was a planet, now of that he's barely a shell.
With a quorum of a hundred or maybe a hundred times three
the IAU voted and with grins of glee,
sent my poor planet Pluto off to Minor Planet hell.

As of September 2006, Pluto has registered with the IAU's Minor Planet Center. Unlike the Major Planets, registration and enumeration are required for Minor Planets. "Yet another layer of humiliation and repression," lamented a depressed (1) Ceres, "We Minor Planets all know you Terrans just want to visit planets and moons, not us numbered rocks. Once we've been numbered and cataloged, it's pretty much all over."

As a registered minor planet, Pluto is now officially a number -- 134340. It's name now apparently superfluous. Very sad news. Pluto was unavailable for comment.


Blogger Laurel Kornfeld said...

Pluto is not a "minor planet" and should not be given a minor planet number. The easiest solution to this problem is to make dwarf planets a subclass of planets that have attained hydrostatic equilibrium but are not gravitationally dominant in their orbits. Minor planet numbers should be reserved for bona fide asteroids.

Then again, the IAU has no authority to enforce any of its dictates. The best thing the scientific community as well as educators and textbook writers can do here is ignore their nonsensical definition entirely.

March 16, 2009 11:37 AM  

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