You Won’t Like The Consequences Of Makin…

You Won’t Like The Consequences Of Making Pluto A Planet Again

“There are some out there who are desperate to save Pluto’s planetary status, and would be willing to open the floodgates and bestow planethood on every moon, asteroid, and ice ball out there that’s massive enough to be round. There are others who spend 100% of their time looking down at their feet on whatever world they’re considering when it comes to planethood, and to them, everything with enough mass will be a planet. But for the rest of us, where you are in the Universe is an inseparable part of what you are. Nothing in the Universe exists in a vacuum, and where you are determines a huge number of properties of you, regardless of whether you’re a planet, moon, asteroid, centaur, comet, Kuiper belt object, or Oort cloud object. If you want to ignore all of that — and proclaim, “round means planet” — then more power to you. But in planethood, as in most things, the full scientific story is far more interesting.”

When you say, “Pluto should be a planet,” what I hear is, “let’s ignore all of astronomy.” When you say, “we’re using a geophysical definition of a planet,” I hear, “we don’t believe in looking up.” And when you say, “we call ourselves planetary scientists, and so we get to decide what a planet is,” I hear, “we don’t care about the full suite of scientific evidence.” There is a long and interesting history to planets and planethood, and yes, the IAU definition is flawed. But does that mean, as Alan Stern and David Grinspoon contend, that we should call every object that can pull itself into a round shape a planet?

The fact is that Pluto was misclassified when we first discovered it, and the only way to “save” involves misclassifying hundreds of other objects, too. Should we?Get the other side of the story and see what you think!