Poor Pluto...

I know that this has been roiling around in the scietific community for a while, and scientists being scientists, standards must be held. But can’t just one exception be made? Poor little Pluto, being demoted to either a “minor planet” or “icy body orbiting outside Neptune”. Can’t nostalgia take over just once? What’s going to happen to the The Planet Pluto Fan Club? What about all those school children who have “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” stuck in their head? In these days of Republican-controlled governments and “Zesty” food commercials, can’t a little sanity reign in the scientific world? What about the children?!?

Folksinger Christine Lavin has been surprisingly active in keeping Pluto in its status as planet. You might want to check out her homepage, especially this section:


I blame the fundamentalists. They want to downgrade Pluto’s status because it’s named after a pagan god. I know; most of the planets are named after pagan gods, but they’re picking out the weakest first. Also, Pluto is a Disney character and they’re still mad over the gay thing.

And what about poor Charon? It’s bad enough to be downgraded from “planet” to “icy body”, but what will Charon’s new status be? From “moon” to “boring rock that no one should pay the least attention to”?

Don’t forget The Planet Song from Blues Clues (I know my kids won’t let me):

*The Planet Song

Well, the Sun’s a hot star and Mercury’s hot too,
Venus is the brightest planet and Earth’s home to me and you.
Mars is the red one and Jupiter’s most wide.
Saturn’s got those icy rings and Uranus spins on its side.
Neptune’s really windy and Pluto’s really small.
Well, we wanted to name the planets and now we’ve named them all.*

Has Interplanet Janet been consulted about this?

BTW, the International Astronomical Union, based in Paris, still calls Pluto a planet.

Where’s my copy of Charles Fort’s LO! ?

The closest to the Sun
Is the planet Mercury
Next the shrouded planet Venus
Is as cloudy as can be.
The Earth is next; we call it home
Let’s hope it stays that way
And then there’s Mars; it’s really red
What more can I say?
The gassy planet Jupiter’s
As big as planets come
Then there’s Saturn with its mighty
Rings made up of tiny crumbs.
We travel on to Neptune
That’s a gassy, freezing ball
And cold and tiny Pluto
It’s the furthest one of all.

Whew! I though this was gonna be bad news about Pluto the doper.

don Jaime, how could you forget Uranus?!

If Pluto does get demoted (I mean, c’mon, he can’t even line up his orbit correctly, and he even ditches in line ahead of Neptune sometimes. He’s slacking on the job, and I think he deserves the demotion!), “My Very Educated Mother Served Us Nachos (or Nectarines or Nuts or any food starting with “N”)” would be easier to remember. One less planet to forget! :smiley:

In all seriousness, the arguement is whether Pluto is a planet or not. Some people say it’s a planet because it has a moon. But then some argue that Charon isn’t really a moon, but a “smaller (evil?) twin” to Pluto. Regardless, I couldn’t care less what they call it…I just know it’s out there…WAAAAAYYYYYYYY out there…and I wouldn’t want to vacation there. I’d rather go to North Dakota.

I say its a planet because that’s the way I learned it, and I prefer to keep my small, secure worldview (or is it solar system view?) unchanging and comfortable. But of course, I was one of those people who just couldn’t deal with the switch from 3 major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) to 4 (FOX). I don’t even want to talk about UPN or WB…


(Thanks for helping set up the joke, Idiotboy!)

“Far beyond the moon and stars,
Twenty light years south of Mars,
Spins the gentle Bunny Planet,
and the Bunny Queen is Janet.”

As a good dad, I’m sure you’ll know this reference, Ike, but I don’t know your’s. Who is “Interplanet Janet”?

My pleasure! :smiley: Always happy to oblige!

Okay, man, you ASKED for it. Gimme a “C,” maestro…

Interplanet Janet, she’s a galaxy girl,
A solar system Ms. from a future world,
She travels like a rocket with her comet team
And there’s never been a planet Janet hasn’t seen,
No, there’s never been a planet Janet hasn’t seen.

She’s been to the Sun, it’s a lot of fun,
It’s a hot-spot, It’s a gas!
Hydrogen and helium in a big, bright, glowing mass.

Mercury was near the Sun so Janet stopped by,
But the mercury on Mercury was much too high, so
Janet split for Venus but on Venus she found
She couldn’t see a thing for all the clouds around.

Earth looked exciting, kind of green and inviting,
So Janet thought she’d give it a go.
But the creatures on that planet looked so very weird to Janet,
She didn’t even dare to say hello.

Mars is red and Jupiter’s big
And Saturn shows off its rings.
Uranus is built on a funny tilt
And Neptune is its twin,
And Pluto, little Pluto, is the farthest planet from the Sun.

Interplanet Janet, she’s a galaxy girl,
A solar system Ms. from a future world,
She travels like a rocket with her comet team
And there’s never been a planet Janet hasn’t seen,
No, there’s never been a planet Janet hasn’t seen.

*-- Schoolhouse Rock, SCIENCE (dumb parts edited out)

Jumpin’ Jupiter! 10 minutes from post to answer, Ike? What, do you have the fastest search engine this side of the asteroid belt, or a video collection of 10,000 no doubt neatly-indexed and color-coded tapes to go with the books and the five grand pianos?

I am deeply impressed.


Mr.Ike, would it be okay if I used your last post as my sig?

(I just read a Pit thread complaining about long sigs, so I thought…)

Never mind.

There would be no problem if the exhibit included the controversy about the status of Pluto as a planet. But it’s quite different for a public museum to have a display that presents the matter as settled. As noted, the IAU still says Pluto is a planet. Also, scientists do not like other scientists going public before a matter has been hashed out among themselves. I wonder if Dr. de Grasse Tyson has lost any professional credibility because of this.

But here’s how I learned the planets: from a 78 rpm record which was popular in the 50s, “By Rocket to the Moon” (music by Raymond Scott).

Well, I’m one of The Evil Astronomers that thinks Pluto ain’t a major planet. I think it really is just the largest in a class of cometlike bodies orbiting past Neptune. I have an article I wrote in a newspaper about it:

(sorry about that URL length!)

Thanks for looking after me scratch! I’m doing fine – no complaints. At least none that anyone will listen to.

As somewhat of an authority on the subject I will settle this controversy once and for all: Of course it’s a planet.

What, after all, is a planet? Anything we darn well want to call it. You can create a definition of the word that doesn’t include small, icy, distant bodies but why bother? What’s the point? How do you “demote” a planet? Even the asteroids are referred to as “minor planets”.

Admittedly it’s not the prototypical planet, but just because it’s off the mainstream there’s no reason to exclude it. I thought diversity was all the rage nowadays.

Pluto has already survived a worse threat. Ever since it was discovered its size and mass have been repeatedly revised downward. Someone once plotted the size estimates over time and extrapolated it forward. The analysis indicated that Pluto would disappear about 1990. Fortunately the curve leveled off in time to save the planet.

So it’s plain that the “demotion” controversy is just another example of a longstanding conspiracy to discredit the most vulnerable member of the solar system. What’s next? Neptune? What would you do without Uranus?

I rest my case.

That does it…

think that was unilateral by American Museum of nat history.

Have to admit I didn’t even notice the last time I was there, but they apparently changed when they opened the Rose Center, at least by yesterday’s NY Times.