A Conversation for In Defense of the Planet Pluto
By a Strange Coincidence...
26199 Started conversation Jul 31, 1999
I happen to have recently (yesterday) read an article in New Scientist about exactly the dilemma you mention.
There are a lot of arguments both for and against Pluto's status as a planet. Its eccentricity of orbit, its small size, the fact that it has a moon practically as big as it, and its low density all count against the argument that Pluto is a planet.
On the other hand, there is no actual lower limit to the size of planets, Pluto may have something of an atmosphere... the argument goes on and on.
However, I'm fairly confident that Pluto will not loose its planetary status, mainly because of all the rewriting of textbooks and general confusion it would cause... there is enough "reasonable doubt" for Pluto to be acquitted... although when we get more powerful telescopes the evidence against pluto could go either way.
Mish Prefect Posted Aug 1, 1999
The New Scientist.
I have to ask, whether this magazine should just be called "Scientist" as it has been going for rather a while, I think anyway. You see, my mother buys it and I occasionaly pick it up & flick through it.
I have not read the Pluto article, but I will now quiery my mother on that one!
wingpig Posted Aug 2, 1999
Needing to rewrite textbooks and encyclopadiae is no excuse. Over the past few decades they've discovered a couple of dinosaurs to be other sorts of dinosaur put together badly with a different skull added on. Thousands of Ladybird books are now inaccurate. Other regions of science are constantly updating themselves with the result that some of the older editions of textbooks in the library have little bits of paper stapled in saying "sorry, but this is wrong and will make you fail exams. What we now think to be the case is ..."
As for pluto, though, the moon is no excuse. Earth's moon is large in relation to the planet it orbits compared to some others. Phobos and Deimos are tiny little things. Miranda is still small even though it's two smaller moonlets stuck together. How big is Charon compared to Pluto? Surely it's the orbital characteristics that matter. If Pluto goes round the sun and Charon goes round Pluto, it's probably a planet. People don't usually bother to give the names of old gods to asteroids, so they might as well stick with it unless they want to rename it 1912 14B or whatever. When was it discovered, anyway? Who first found out where it was? When?
Researcher 45790 Posted Aug 2, 1999
Hoop the Mottle Posted Aug 2, 1999
Exactly right.Just because you have a SMALL MARBLE doesn't mean you stop calling it a marble.A marble remains a marble.A planet remains a planet and Pluto is a SMALL PLANET.Right?
RSBohn Posted Aug 2, 1999
Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. Read more about the controversy at:
Mr. Tombaugh died in 1997. Find more about him at:
RSBohn Posted Aug 2, 1999
Then again, Pluto might be a great location for the DAMfgCo factory!
26199 Posted Aug 2, 1999
You're right, new scientist has been going for ages and ages and ages and ages.
Since before I was born, anyway.
(Note to concerned parties: I have largely been cured of the suspension dots disease now, unfortunately I am now addicted to shrugging.)
Have a fish.
wingpig Posted Aug 3, 1999
Maybe it's a planette. Exactly how anomalous is its orbit? Strange how they waited for Tombaugh to die before they started complaining. How long before his death were they plotting this deed? Maybe they have plans to re-classify Jupiter as a small browny/creamy/orangey with a red spotty dwarf? Maybe they wish to rename Mercury as Cable&Wireless Communications. Maybe it's only because they haven't seen many other stars with planets about them recently. Maybe they feel we're a bit freakish with our nine planets and don't want to be shown up as fools when the aliens arrive and tell us that no-self-respecting G2 star has more than three planets orbiting it. Maybe they want their names in a book somewhere saying "authors of the Pluto's just a lump of rock theory" as their contribution to the furtherment of mankind. Maybe they were forced to eat porridge as children. I don't know.
TeaKay Posted Feb 6, 2003
I know it's been a while, and you probably know the answers by now, but what the hell, it gives me an excuse to take a break from my homework (which, incidently is about this very argument):
"Exactly how anomalous is its orbit?"
It wanders closer to the sun than Neptune at points in its orbit, I'd say that was pretty eccentric, for a planet at least. And it's not in the same plane as the rest of the planets as well- the otehr 8 all rotate in planes within a few degrees of each other, but Pluto's pretty different in that sense too.
Also, Pluto's right on the edge of the Kuiper belt- that's a bit like the asteroid belt only further out, composed mainly of dirty balls of ice (comet- like material). One of the arguments for changing Pluto's status into a non- planet is that it has a very similar composition to that of a comet, and is in the right place to be a comet, albeit a big one.
As for the comment about not wanting to seem out- of- fashion with our extraterrestrial neighbours, well, we're way out on that one- observations have shown that some other solar systems have Jupiter- sized planets at around 1Au from their parent stars (That's as far away from their star as the Earth is from our Sun), which has confused a lot of people and made some astronomers scratch their heads and take another look at our ideas about the formation of star- systems.
Hope I've answered some questions
And I'm not fighting for the re-classification of Pluto, just seems all the facts aren't known fully. I, as usual, am sitting on the fence with this one- I don't really mind either way.
And please take a look at a couple of my guide entries- I'd love to get something in the edited guide, so please comment!
Lastly, sorry for waffling
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By a Strange Coincidence...
- 1: 26199 (Jul 31, 1999)
- 2: Mish Prefect (Aug 1, 1999)
- 3: wingpig (Aug 2, 1999)
- 4: Researcher 45790 (Aug 2, 1999)
- 5: Hoop the Mottle (Aug 2, 1999)
- 6: RSBohn (Aug 2, 1999)
- 7: RSBohn (Aug 2, 1999)
- 8: 26199 (Aug 2, 1999)
- 9: Mish Prefect (Aug 2, 1999)
- 10: wingpig (Aug 3, 1999)
- 11: TeaKay (Feb 6, 2003)
- 12: 26199 (Feb 6, 2003)
- 13: TeaKay (Feb 7, 2003)