Friday, June 13, 2008

Consolation for Pluto

Most of you probably remember the Sturm und Drang a couple of years ago when the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto from the status of a true planet. Steve even commented on a resolution introduced in the California legislature (you can always count on them!) condemning the demotion as it would cause "psychological harm to some Californians who question their place in the universe and worry about the instability of universal constants."

Well recently the IAU has come up with a new term for "small, nearly spherical objects orbiting beyond Neptune": plutoids. Naming a new class of dwarf planets after Pluto ought to make everyone feel better, don't you think?

Nah. Some critics of the IAU remain unappeased: "It's just some people in a smoke-filled room who dreamed it up," ......... "Plutoids or haemorrhoids, whatever they call it. This is irrelevant."

Personally, I was never that concerned about the IAU's decision in 2006 as it brought the structure of Gustav Holst's orchestral suite, The Planets, back in line with reality.

No comments: