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1888Re: Solar system loses a planet

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  • Gregory
    Aug 24, 2006
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      I wonder if I am the only one in America a little sad about this. I
      understand that our thinking and understanding of what constitutes a
      planet has changed, and while I think that is good, I am a bit sad
      for "Pluto." Perhaps it is because I (we) grew up learning about it
      and wondering if man would ever travel so far out in space to get to
      it one day. Anyway, just a little sad for it....

      Gregory


      --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060825/ap_on_sc/planet_mutiny
      >
      > Dinky Pluto loses its status as planet
      >
      > By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 20
      > minutes ago
      >
      > PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Pluto, beloved by some as a
      > cosmic underdog but scorned by astronomers who
      > considered it too dinky and distant, was
      > unceremoniously stripped of its status as a planet
      > Thursday.
      >
      > The International Astronomical Union, dramatically
      > reversing course just a week after floating the idea
      > of reaffirming Pluto's planethood and adding three new
      > planets to Earth's neighborhood, downgraded the ninth
      > rock from the sun in historic new galactic guidelines.
      >
      > The shift will have the world's teachers scrambling to
      > alter lesson plans just as schools open for the fall
      > term.
      >
      > "It will all take some explanation, but it is really
      > just a reclassification and I can't see that it will
      > cause any problems," said Neil Crumpton, who teaches
      > science at a high school north of London. "Science is
      > an evolving subject and always will be."
      >
      > Powerful new telescopes, experts said, are changing
      > the way they size up the mysteries of the solar system
      > and beyond. But the scientists at the conference
      > showed a soft side, waving plush toys of the Walt
      > Disney character Pluto the dog — and insisting that
      > Pluto's spirit will live on in the exciting
      > discoveries yet to come.
      >
      > "The word 'planet' and the idea of planets can be
      > emotional because they're something we learn as
      > children," said Richard Binzel, a professor of
      > planetary science at the Massachusetts Institute of
      > Technology, who helped hammer out the new definition.
      >
      > "This is really all about science, which is all about
      > getting new facts," he said. "Science has marched on.
      > ... Many more Plutos wait to be discovered."
      >
      > Pluto, a planet since 1930, got the boot because it
      > didn't meet the new rules, which say a planet not only
      > must orbit the sun and be large enough to assume a
      > nearly round shape, but must "clear the neighborhood
      > around its orbit." That disqualifies Pluto, whose
      > oblong orbit overlaps Neptune's, downsizing the solar
      > system to eight planets from the traditional nine.
      >
      > Astronomers have labored without a universal
      > definition of a planet since well before the time of
      > Copernicus, who proved that the Earth revolves around
      > the sun, and the experts gathered in Prague burst into
      > applause when the guidelines were passed.
      >
      > Predictably, Pluto's demotion provoked plenty of
      > wistful nostalgia.
      >
      > "It's disappointing in a way, and confusing," said
      > Patricia Tombaugh, the 93-year-old widow of Pluto
      > discoverer Clyde Tombaugh.
      >
      > "I don't know just how you handle it. It kind of
      > sounds like I just lost my job," she said from Las
      > Cruces, N.M. "But I understand science is not
      > something that just sits there. It goes on. Clyde
      > finally said before he died, 'It's there. Whatever it
      > is. It is there.'"
      >
      > The decision by the IAU, the official arbiter of
      > heavenly objects, restricts membership in the elite
      > cosmic club to the eight classical planets: Mercury,
      > Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and
      > Neptune.
      >
      > Pluto and objects like it will be known as "dwarf
      > planets," which raised some thorny questions about
      > semantics: If a raincoat is still a coat, and a cell
      > phone is still a phone, why isn't a dwarf planet still
      > a planet?
      >
      > NASA said Pluto's downgrade would not affect its $700
      > million New Horizons spacecraft mission, which this
      > year began a 9 1/2-year journey to the oddball object
      > to unearth more of its secrets.
      >
      > But mission head Alan Stern said he was "embarrassed"
      > by Pluto's undoing and predicted that Thursday's vote
      > would not end the debate. Although 2,500 astronomers
      > from 75 nations attended the conference, only about
      > 300 showed up to vote.
      >
      > "It's a sloppy definition. It's bad science," he said.
      > "It ain't over."
      >
      > Under the new rules, two of the three objects that
      > came tantalizingly close to planethood will join Pluto
      > as dwarfs: the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in
      > the 1800s before it got demoted, and 2003 UB313, an
      > icy object slightly larger than Pluto whose
      > discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute
      > of Technology, has nicknamed "Xena." The third object,
      > Pluto's largest moon, Charon, isn't in line for any
      > special designation.
      >
      > Brown, whose Xena find rekindled calls for Pluto's
      > demise because it showed it isn't nearly as unique as
      > it once seemed, waxed philosophical.
      >
      > "Eight is enough," he said, jokingly adding: "I may go
      > down in history as the guy who killed Pluto."
      >
      > Demoting the icy orb named for the Roman god of the
      > underworld isn't personal — it's just business — said
      > Jack Horkheimer, director of the Miami Space Transit
      > Planetarium and host of the PBS show "Star Gazer."
      >
      > "It's like an amicable divorce," he said. "The legal
      > status has changed but the person really hasn't. It's
      > just single again."
      >
      > ___
      >
      > AP Science Writers Alicia Chang in Los Angeles and
      > Seth Borenstein in Washington, and correspondents Sue
      > Leeman in London and Mike Schneider in Cape Canaveral,
      > Fla., contributed to this story.
      >
      > ___
      >
      > On the Net:
      >
      > International Astronomical Union, http://www.iau.org
      >
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