Is Pluto a Planet?

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Experts meet to decide Pluto fate

How many planets are there in the solar system? Well, when I was growing up as a space-obsessed young geek, everyone knew that the answer was nine. Admittedly Pluto was a bit small, and had that funny orbit that brought it closer than Neptune for some of the time, but it was a planet, no question of that. But in recent years, things have become more complicated – more objects have been found in the outer part of the solar system, including at least one that’s larger than Pluto. So is that a planet? Well, not so far.

The International Astronomical Union is the body that decides on official names for planets, and they’re going to be deciding what to do about the outer solar system[1]. Will they decide to recategorise Pluto as some kind of asteroid or minor planet? Will they decide that a new label is needed for the ever-growing number of odd objects out there?

My guess is that the more recently discovered bodies will be labelled as “minor planets” (or something) and Pluto will keep its planet status for historical reasons. But I could be wrong. It’s happened at least once or twice before. :laugh:

[1] Calling in the Vogons to demolish parts of it is not currently on the agenda

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  1. Pingback: How many? : Losing it

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