Thursday, August 24, 2006

Au revoir Pluto!

The rumours started last tuesday and today were confirmed: The IAU did not aproved the proposed redefinition of a planet that would many members to the planetary neighborhood, not only that, now Pluto is no longer a planet!

This was the correct decision (so we finally admit there was a mistake made more than 70 years ago) but I was surprised when the news arrived on tuesday that most astronomers not only wouldn't vote the proposed definition but actually wanted Pluto out of town. I definitely didn't expected that the IAU would demote Pluto as a planet, mostly because astronomers have always been very much conservative, take the horrible magnitude system as an example (we have a very ugly system for measuring fluxes that was made only to agree with some measurements done in the classic Greece!).

On the other side the decision to call Pluto a member of a new class of planets, the plutons, instead of just calling it a planetoid is silly and was fortunately rejected so Pluto is now a "minor planet". The obvious name for this kind of objects is planetoids and everyone out there is using it but somehow the IAU doesn't thinks that, but well... what can I do on that regard?

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