Wow! Bob Dylan put out a new album this month, but the old stuff still speaks volumes. “The times they are a changing”. I woke up one morning and read the paper.
“Pluto no longer a planet” it proclaimed.
Maybe it was the mental state that I was in, but it just hit me as being so absurd. What does that mean “no longer a planet”? Did it explode, warp off into intergalactic space or morph into a cosmic vapor?
All these years did my very educated mother just serve us the wrong thing? Or did she get everything right but the dish…but then we have that “Neptune nine” thing, so maybe she just served us noodles or something. All very disturbing indeed!
And what about the kids in school who just memorized the nine planets…ooops the eight planets and three dwarf planets(?). And what is Pluto now? A minor planet? A dwarf planet? A small, orbiting solar system body? I don’t think we really clarified things at Pluto’s expense. Maybe it is just a marketing ploy to promote the new group – Pluto and the Planettes? Speaking of which, we did have that option. Just make it an even dozen. That’s a nice number, and aren’t we all about inclusion these days? I mean, I have attended more diversity training classes than I care to think about. Seems like the International Astronomical Union (IAU) needs a refresher course. I will make that suggestion next time my company wants to immerse me once again. They already know I am an amateur astronomer. Let’s see, they call me Cosmo, Charlie Sagan, Space boy, Starman, Bill Nye the Science guy, Astro(nut). Come to think of it, maybe we do need that next round of diversity training, but that is not going to help Pluto with its struggle.
And the dozen seemed so logical. There is great company with packaged eggs, long-stemmed roses, the disciples, months in a year. I can think of a dozen examples…there goes another one. And that would still give us enough room for one more discovery to make it a baker’s dozen. Can’t beat that, built in growth potential, if we ever do manage to find Planet X.
That was the real rub wasn’t it? Ceres, Xena and Pluto’s relatively oversized moon Charon were encroaching on hallowed ground and bullied ole Pluto out of the pack. And where were Pluto’s defenders? Clyde served him well during his tenure. Maybe that was the problem. No one picked up the torch and then you have Ceres and Xena’s defenders wanting a share of the planetary discoverer’s pie. Maybe it was a sour grapes, “well if we can’t become a member of the group, then no small planets can” scenario. I tell you, the world is an ugly dog eat dog (pun partially intended) place these days. And I learned that in the 1800’s Ceres was demoted. I guess we all have a challenge conceptually including an over-sized peanut in the planetary group. And look what happened to Ceres. After a hundred years, no one even remembers the struggle, the pain of rejection and humiliation of demotion. Poor Pluto. Doomed by very name to be relegated to the underworld.
I mean all my life Pluto has been the last guy out there, the guard dog (OK pun intended) holding up the rear, looking after our back. Nobody saw it coming. Out of the blue it was just decided by a group of stuffy folks in a lonely room somewhere in Europe that He just did not cut the mustard any longer as a full fledged member of our solar system’s planetary club. Clyde Tombaugh must have turned over in his grave. His gracious widow stated that she felt like she was just fired. And poor Pluto. What will happen to poor Pluto. It is bad enough wandering out there so far away on your own. Maybe we just don’t know him well enough. Isn’t the “New Horizons” mission supposed to rectify that? Or is lonely Pluto’s only likely date to be called off as well. A very sad situation. After all these years is it a contract separation and recognition as the “dwarf planet formerly known as planet Pluto”?
But then, maybe that is it. Maybe any publicity is good publicity. I mean, I cannot remember the last time I had an itch to try and resolve Pluto in a scope? And I have never imaged Pluto before. But now, I can’t wait for the next opportunity to do both. Somehow resolving its little disk will make me feel justified in my stubborn resistance to Pluto’s demotion. Maybe it was our apathy that contributed to the demise of our number nine planet. But then Uranus does not exactly get prime time either. I guess Uranus is just too big to mess with. They only pick on the little guys. The ones they feel do not have too much political support. The ones they can pick off without too much threat of a fair fight. I guess this concludes that to the IAU, size does matter. We know that Ganymede, Triton and Titan lord it over Pluto and are mooning for planetary designations based on their size, but basically they are just big “groupies”. Pluto stepped out on his own and even developed his own little following of 3. Gee – Pluto is fairly well rounded and basically a rock solid guy (70%). It seems like harsh treatment just because little Pluto is a “low pressure”, happy go lucky fellow who did not understand the gravity of the situation and annihilate would be contenders in his neighborhood. We all know he is a little eccentric, cuts in line with Neptune and marches to a different drummer by spinning backwards and sideways. So this makes him odd-planet out? Hey, Uranus is also an odd ball. He goes around spinning on his side too. It’s one thing for a little fellow, but for a fully-grown planet? Well it seems mighty un-planetary to me. And what about all those gas giants anyway? Aren’t they pretty darn big to be planets? Aren’t they really brown dwarfs? Maybe it is just “me and “my very educated mother” all alone in our solar system and the rest are just a pack of orbiting under or overgrown misfits.
Hmmmm….now I am getting to the root of my passion for the issue. And there are a host of others based on comments that I read online. We simply don’t like to see a pack of elitists picking on the little guy. Hey look out IAU. There are a lot of us that like to root for the underdog (no pun intended) even if our relationship with the planet is merely Plutonic (bad pun intended). What say we get a petition started?
Pluto for planet in 2007. Eight is great, but nine is fine and eleven is heaven. We really must do something to answer that “Eight is enough crowd.”