Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pluto -- Planet or not?

The Great Planetary Debate of 2006 continues. The initial proposal expanding the solar system to 12 has been shot down, but remains the basis for a new proposal, although the term plutons has been eliminated -- geologists were already using the term for deep igneous rock formations.

The new propsal includes a new "orbital dominance" clause, along with the previous gravitational (big enough for gravity to make it round) and orbital (orbits a star, but isn't a star) ones.

"A planet, they insist, must be the dominant object in its area. That would draw a sharp distinction between the eight "classical planets" — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — and Pluto, which would be known as a "dwarf planet.""

The other bodies (Ceres, Charon, and UB313 "Xena") that were being considered would obviously also not make the cut and be demoted as well.

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