Funnily enough, in that op-ed Tom Kreider admits: “Even I was a little abashed last week when the International Astronomical Union tried to protect Plutoâ€™s status by proposing an absurdly broad definition of planethood that encompasses moons, asteroids and trans-Neptunian objects â€” in other words, pretty much any half-formed hunk of frozen crud that can pull itself together into a ball long enough to get photographed by the Hubble.” The defender of Pluto says it more eloquently than I how that other proposed definition, scientifically and aesthetically, isn’t worth a Vice President (which itself isn’t worth a warm bucket of spit).
And I’ll quote the op-ed again to illustrate why Pluto shouldn’t be a planet: “Pluto is idiosyncratic â€” neither a dull, domestic terrestrial planet nor a surly, vainglorious gas giant. Itâ€™s mostly ice. Itâ€™s smaller than our own Moon, and has an orbit so eccentric that it spends 20 years of its 248-year revolutionary period inside Neptuneâ€™s orbit. Itâ€™s tilted at a crazy 17-degree angle to the ecliptic, and its satellite, Charon, is so disproportionately large that itâ€™s been called a double planet.”
The anthropomorphization in the article was starting to piss me off, though. Come on! Pluto is a fucking chunk of ice in space! It doesn’t have feelings! It doesn’t care if we humans categorize it as a planet or not.
Here’s the new definition of planet for the more scientifically minded: “a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a … nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.” Pluto will now be categorized as a “dwarf planet.”
Ooh yeah, I am gloating now. For a long time (compared to my relatively short life so far), I have said Pluto is not a planet. Vindication at last!