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Tony The Tiger

8 Planets?

Should Pluto be a planet?   15 members have voted

  1. 1. Well, what do you think?

    • Yes, of course!
      7
    • No, it's too small
      5
    • I really don't care!
      3

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10 posts in this topic

NEW YORK (AP) -- One of the nation's leading science museums has quietly shaken up the universe by suggesting that Pluto is not necessarily a planet at all but just a lump of ice.

The startling suggestion comes from scientists at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, which opened last year at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

There is a 9-foot- (2.7-meter) diameter model of Jupiter hanging from the ceiling at the center. There is Saturn with its rings, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Neptune and Uranus. But what about Pluto, long considered the ninth planet in the solar system?

A solar system display says: "Beyond the outer planets is the Kuiper Belt of comets, a disk of small, icy worlds including Pluto.''

"There is no scientific insight to be gained by counting planets,'' says Neil de Grasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, the centerpiece of the Rose Center. "Eight or nine, the numbers don't matter.''

Many astronomers say the museum, the first prominent institution to take this position, has overstepped its bounds.

"Tyson is so far off base with Pluto, it's like he's in a different universe," says David Levy, author of Clyde Tombaugh, Discoverer of Planet Pluto, about the Kansas farm boy who first spotted Pluto. "The majority of astronomers have said that unless there is definitive evidence to the contrary, Pluto stays a major planet."

The International Astronomical Union calls Pluto one of nine planets in the solar system, and a 1999 proposal to list Pluto as both a planet and a member of the Kuiper Belt was abandoned after it drew strong opposition from astronomers who did not want to diminish Pluto's status.

Pluto has always been a little different: Its composition is like a comet's, and its elliptical orbit is tilted 17 degrees from the orbits of the other planets.

When Pluto was discovered in 1930, it was thought to be about the same size as Earth, but astronomers have now learned that it is only 1,413 miles (2,274 kilometers) wide -- smaller than Earth's moon.

Then, in 1992, astronomers discovered the first Kuiper Belt object, and since then have found hundreds of chunks of rock and ice beyond Neptune, including about 70 that share orbits similar to Pluto's.

The Rose Center says there is no universal definition of a planet and instead divides the solar system into the Sun and five families of objects.

There are terrestrial planets, or small, dense rocky objects like Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars; the Asteroid Belt consisting of craggy chunks of rock and iron between Mars and Jupiter; the gas giants, which are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune; and two reservoirs of comets -- the Oort Cloud and the Kuiper Belt.

And Pluto?

"It's in the Kuiper Belt,'' Tyson says. "What's it made of? It's mostly ice.''

Tyson says there is a precedent to demoting planets: Ceres was called a planet in 1801 and later demoted. Critics counter that Ceres, which is only 580 miles (933 kilometers) wide, was only considered a planet for a year, while Pluto has been a major planet for more than 70 years. In addition, they say, there was consensus among astronomers in the case of Ceres.

Still, others praise the museum for its bold move.

"People just don't like the idea that you can change the number of planets,'' says David Jewit, a professor at the University of Hawaii who co-discovered the first Kuiper Belt object. "The Rose Center is just slightly ahead of its time.''

Jane Levenson, an "explainer'' at the Rose center, says visitors -- mostly kids -- sometimes ask about the missing Pluto.

"We just explain that there are five types of objects that circle the Sun,'' she says. "We don't make a big deal about Pluto.'' :alien:

I think this is stupid. I've grown up with 9 planets all my life, and now they decide its not a planet?

What do you think?

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I think, in general, the only constant is change.

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Tony the Tiger 2 points here, firstly you must provide a source/link for all non-original articles. It actually comes from space.com

Secondly this is a very out of date story. It is dated 26th January 2001.

The International Astronomical Union voted last month on the status of Pluto and similar bodies. As a result Pluto official lost it's status as a planet See: Is Pluto A Planet? (Merged Thread).

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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It is? wow. Sorry folks, forget this ever existed

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:rofl: Welcome to UM!

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It is? wow. Sorry folks, forget this ever existed

I don't think there is any reason to forget this thread exists. As long as people are aware that things have moved on in the 5 years since your article there is no reason why the poll question should not still be valid.

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Ok, I went ahead and voted. I think they did the right thing by dropping Pluto. With technology advancing the way it is I am sure this isn't going to be the only thing changing with time. Would not be right to be teaching kids nine planets and trying to explain that there are only eight with one exception.

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Plus thev'e found serena. :tu:

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Personally, I would have tried to get Pluto grandfathered in just out of nostalgia, but I can't say I disagree with the decision.

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Well, not to feel too bad, Pluto is still considered to be a 'dwarf planet'.

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