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Guide to Pluto

Updated on May 31, 2014

Guide to Pluto

Asteroid number # 134340

Planet X.

Formerly the ninth planet.

As school children, we learned nine planets. And then one fateful day our universe changed, it became smaller because one of our planets was missing.

Men Very Easily Make Jugs Serve Useful Nocturnal Purposes (Me is Mercury and Ma is Mars)

"My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas." (some people used to say pickles)

The old mnemonic is fine. When you come to the end just remember that Pluto left and took the pizzas.

Eight Planets:

"Mary's violet eyes make Johnny stay up nights."

"My very educated mother just served us nectarines."

"My very educated mother just served us nachos."

"My very excited mother just saw Uncle Ned."

"Mathematicians Verify Eight Must Just Stay Under Nine."

Mary's "Virgin" explanation made Joseph suspect upstairs neighbor. [However, Saint Joseph decided to trust Mary and leave heavenly bodies to God. They shortly thereafter went to Bethlehem for the census and the rest is Christian history.]

If invading from another stellar system:

Nosy Uncle Sam Just Might Eavesdrop Voice Mails

Eleven Planets:

"My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants." (C for Ceres, the second E for Eris)

Thirteen Planets:

Since a dwarf human is still a human, then surely a dwarf planet is still a planet - it's just a small one. So with Ceres, Pluto, Haumae, Makemake and Eris together with the other 8, we have a total of 13 planets - and we need another mnemonic:

My Very Excellent Mother Creates Jelly Surprise Using Nice Pink Hot Munchy Eggs!

Help give P4 and P5 names

Go to Pluto Rocks dot com

The other two articles are to show that this is legitimate and for real.

worldwide shock at Pluto's demotion

credit: Ben Newton

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credit: Peter Griffin

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credit: Taremu

why Pluto was demoted - compare Earth & moon with Pluto & Charon

No, it was not caught using drugs and the sports commission stripped it of its title. Nothing like that.

1. One of the definitions of a planet is something that clears out its orbit. Ceres, for example, merits planetary status except it is in and part of the main Asteroid Belt. Ceres has not accreted or absorbed the other asteroids. Perhaps in a million years it will but not yet. So Ceres is not ready for prime time. Pluto was found to be near and part of the Kuiper Belt. After discovering objects almost as large as Pluto, astronomers realized that it was only a matter of time before they discovered a world larger than Pluto. [Comparing Ceres and Pluto is misleading because Ceres is about the size of all the other asteroids combined. Pluto is but a speck in the Kuiper Belt.]

2. Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz discovered dwarf planet Makemake which is only slightly smaller than Pluto.

3. The death blow was Eris which was believed to be bigger than Pluto. So the astronomers voted to demote Pluto since there are hundreds if not thousands of worlds like it in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune.

4. Which brings up another problem. Pluto's orbit occasionally takes it inside the orbit of Neptune. All the other planets have nice circular (more or less) orbits that don't cross each other like comets or wandering asteroids. So Pluto was obviously the first discovery of an asteroid in the Kuiper Belt in the same way that Ceres was the first discovery of an asteroid in the Main Asteroid Belt.

5. Besides, wasn't Pluto named after a dog instead of a Greek god like the "real planets"? [Yes, I am aware that it was actually the other way around. Disney named the dog after the asteroid which actually was named after a Greek god.]

Schoolchildren and other people who once had been schoolchildren the world over made an outcry over the disturbance in the force. Astronomers originally planned to demote and bust Pluto all the way down to forgettable asteroid. There were plans to demote Pluto below asteroid status ("trans-Neptunian object" or TNO), give it a number (Asteroid number #134340), and take away its name since it is little more than a large dust particle more suitable for powdering into one of the rings of Saturn than deserving even a numerical designation. Can you imagine bothering to assign a number to every dust particle orbiting Saturn in its rings? A pretty stupid waste of time.

A little background will explain why astronomers seem to have an axe to grind against Pluto. The seventh planet (Uranus) is very visible to the naked eye in a dark sky and has been since humans were swinging in trees before they came down and lived in caves. So when the seventh planet was discovered to be a planet and not a star, non-astronomers suggested naming the planet Dumbbell because duh! They should have noticed it was planet from ancient times and not wait until March 13, 1781 before they finally realized it. Some say giving it the name Uranus was astronomers' revenge for making them look stupid. Neptune was discovered by calculation and telescope. And so when Pluto was discovered, astronomers assumed that because of its small size, it would complete the census of the Solar System. Just as the innermost world is Mercury -- with no hidden planet closer to the sun -- likewise Pluto must be the outermost world with no undiscovered planet farther from the sun. Even the size of the planets seems to suggest symmetry with most of the larger planets in the middle and tapering off on the ends. Earth is larger than Venus which is larger than Mercury. Going the other direction is the largest Jupiter, the second largest Saturn, the third largest Uranus, the fourth largest Neptune and the smallest is Pluto.

So when astronomers discovered the vast swarm beyond Neptune, they remembered the embarrassment of Uranus and took it out on Pluto. Fool us into thinking that you were a legitimate planet, will you? We can take away your name.

So now you know why it has been erased from the planetary maps.

Because of the outcry, astronomers relented and decided to call Pluto a "dwarf planet" as in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs out of Disney sentimentality. But it is still in the doghouse. How the mighty have fallen. A once proud member of the club now just a Mickey Mouse has-been. Shame and disgrace. Bad dog!

how Pluto could recover its status as a planet

1. It may be bigger than Eris.

2. Pluto has more than one moon. One of which was discovered only last month. It is now up to five moons. Yes, you read right. Five, count'em, five moons. Pluto? Serious? Yes Pluto. Only in the last few days have they gotten around to naming two of the moons as far as I know.

3. Pluto may have a hidden ocean. And we already know it has a very thin atmosphere.

4. When the IAU voted on Pluto, there was not a quorum.

5. The IAU's specialty isn't planetary science, it's astrophysics! What the fudge are astrophysicists doing pontificating on matters of planetary science?

6. The IAU's definition of a planet only works for bodies orbiting Sol (our sun). The definition may be useless for extrasolar planets. Which means . . .

7. As the huge and constantly growing catalog of extrasolar planets in the SESP database continues to expand, it is a certainty that the matter will be revisited. Perhaps the next time there will be a quorum of planetary scientists who know what they are doing.

8. If Ceres and Eris got promotions to planet, then astronomers could see their way clear to give Pluto back its status as full planet (instead of just the humiliating "dwarf planet" status). This would mean the Solar System would be defined as having eleven planets. Ceres does not have a moon. Some asteroids do have moons but are way smaller than Ceres. Eris has one moon.

We will have to wait for the International Astronomical Union.

Now if we could just straighten out that crooked orbit of Pluto . . . .

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming

The solar system most of us grew up with included nine planets, with Mercury closest to the sun and Pluto at the outer edge. Then, in 2005, astronomer Mike Brown made the discovery of a lifetime: a tenth planet, Eris, slightly bigger than Pluto. But instead of adding one more planet to our solar system, Brown’s find ignited a firestorm of controversy that culminated in the demotion of Pluto from real planet to the newly coined category of “dwarf” planet. Suddenly Brown was receiving hate mail from schoolchildren and being bombarded by TV reporters—all because of the discovery he had spent years searching for and a lifetime dreaming about.

A heartfelt and personal journey filled with both humor and drama, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming is the book for anyone, young or old, who has ever imagined exploring the universe—and who among us hasn’t?

 

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