To Be A Planet, Or Not To Be A Planet

Few things in Astronomy have caused as much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the astronomical community as the IAUs 2006 re-defining of “Planet” to exclude Pluto. National Geographic has reopened this national wound by holding a contest for school children to come up with a new mnemonic to remember the planets.

The contest was won by 10 year old Maryn Smith. But, um, why did National Geographic have the contestants keep Pluto in the list, and add the asteroid Ceres and Kuiper Object Eris? Hum?

Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy asks, what’s up with that?

Um, NatGeo? I hate to break it to you, but our solar system, officially, has eight planets. Pluto was kicked out years ago. If you want to be a Luddite and still accept Pluto as a planet, that’s fine, but really, Ceres and Eris too?


He has a point.

So in the end, NatGeo would have done a lot better to leave Ceres and Eris off — they’re just not planets by anyone’s definition — and to be consistent they should have left Pluto off as well.

And if you want to consider dwarf planets, then why leave off Quaoar and Sedna, hum???

Just Askin’.

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