Why Did Pluto Lose Its Planet Status?
My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine…… um… Nine…………. Just Served Us Nachos?
Like it or not, everyone’s favorite far-flung world Pluto is no longer considered a full-fledged planet, at least not in the International Astronomical Union’s book. It’s now a dwarf planet, sharing its status with other icy worlds beyond the orbit of Neptune (as well as an overgrown asteroid called Ceres.) But why was Pluto demoted in the first place? What prompted the astronomy community to scrutinize Pluto’s credentials and make a decision that upset millions of people worldwide (not to mention more than a few grade-school classes)?
Personally, I’m ok with it either way. Regardless of what we call it Pluto is still a fascinating world deserving of our investigation. And if anything, it’s gotten it even more attention over the past several years than it ever got since its discovery! Not bad for a chilly little planet – er, dwarf planet – over 5 billion km away.
For more on the IAU’s controversial 2006 decision, click here.