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Pluto is a Planet Again, Sorta.

Stashed in: Science!, The Universe, Harvard, Space!, Size matters., Pluto

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Standing behind the logic that “Even though a dwarf fruit tree is still a small fruit tree, and a dwarf hamster is still a small hamster,” The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics recently decided to revisit the IAU’s ruling by hosting a discussion on the definition of a planet. Three experts chimed in on the controversy: Dr. Owen Gingerich, chair the IAU planet definition committee; Dr. Gareth Williams, associate director of the Minor Planet Center; and Dr. Dimitar Sasselov, director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative.

“Gingerich argued that 'a planet is a culturally defined word that changes over time,' and that Pluto is a planet. Williams defended the IAU definition, which declares that Pluto is not a planet. And Sasselov defined a planet as 'the smallest spherical lump of matter that formed around stars or stellar remnants,' which means Pluto is a planet.”

So there you have it. Pluto is back in… sort of.

The vote wasn’t official and doesn’t really hold any actual weight in the science community but it’s a start and you know that ol’ science adage: “Space Rome wasn’t built in a single zettasecond.”

If Pluto is back in, is anything else in?

Pluto is an MVP:  Minimally Viable Planet.  I don't know if there are others.

There are actually 11 planets (not including Pluto).

there are 11 planets not including pluto

Uranus is known as Herschel?!

Yep. And the English wanted to name it Georgium after George III.

Not sure why George III deserves recognition.

Also not sure what Vesta, Juno, Ceres, and Pallas are. Former asteroids?

George III was the English king at the time.

Vesta et al were the first four asteroids discovered. Ceres is actually pretty large.

Makemake, Dwarf Planet in Kuiper Belt : Temperature and Composition - Windows to the Universe

Thankfully, none of them are as large as Melancholia :-)

Melancholia: when worlds collide, beautifully | fxguide

There is no rejection like scientific rejection.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of the stuff in Lord of the Rings isn't scientifically accurate either.

I'm pretty sure you're right. 

There are so many asteroids, it seems odd to single out 4.

It didn't seem so odd when there were only 4 known.

But that's part of the reasoning for making Pluto not a planet. There are so many Kuiper belt objects, it seems odd to single out one. (And we've only started discovering all the Kuiper belt objects out there.)

Good point. 

Is the Kuiper belt much bigger than the Asteroid belt?

Very much so. "20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive" sez Wikipedia.

Wow. The asteroid belt is huge so it's hard for me to imagine something that much bigger. 

Yo mama.

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