Thursday, August 31, 2006

If Pluto, then Neptune...

A point that occurred to me, too, came up at Stromata blog:

There is, however, a matter that puzzles me. Pluto is no longer a “planet”, according to the International Astronomical Union, because it fails one of the sine quibus non, to wit, it has not “cleared the neighborhood around its orbit”. Just a minute there: Neither has Neptune. The orbits of the two bodies overlap. If Pluto is to be downgraded for having failed either to expel or capture Neptune, can one give Neptune a pass for having failed to deal with Pluto and its companion Charon? Shouldn’t it be a “dwarf” too, albeit a Captain Carrot among the dwarfish tribe?

I'm assuming the AU folks are mighty smart and meticulous, so there must be an answer.

I'm just too busy making a midnight deadline on a piece and then a 6 am deadline on something else to go google it.

Feel free to post a comment that enlightens me. I'll read it after the a.m. deadline that's after the midnight deadline, or, more likely, after I crash and doze.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mirtika,

The answer seems simple to me--the dynamicists, whose definition was pushed through the IAU meeting haven't worked out a reasonably clear definition. All they were really interested in is counteracting the definition proposed and worked on by primarily Planetary Geologists. It's infighting unleashed in the scientific world. Having spent a good deal of time there, this kind of thing happens far more often than one would expect in a supposedly "objective" pursuit.



Mirtika said...

See, ain't that a sad state of affairs?


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