Thursday, August 24, 2006

Planet Clutter

Socialist Party candidate, Jeff Brindle ( posted this timely commentary on the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition discussion list. It's too good not to share.

Today the International Astronomical Union voted to adopt a new definition of what constitutes a planet. Sadly, Pluto has been demoted along with many other bodies that were vying for planetary status.

I for one applaud this decision. Our solar system was suffering from "planetary clutter." 9 planets?? Seriously, that's just way too confusing. Think of the poor school children struggling to memorize their names. I've seen more than one reduced to tears trying to figure out what comes after Mars. That's just not right...

If you read the IAU's decision carefully though, they've also increased the moon threshold. Using Jupiter and Saturn (by far the biggest and therefore most representational of our diverse system) as the rule, all planets must have at least a dozen moons to qualify as a planet. Sadly this decision will result in Mercury, Venus, Mars, and our own Earth loosing their planetary status unless they manage to collect more moons before the next election, err I mean..eclipse.

The peoples of Earth have appealed this decision, but given the slow speed of interplanetary spacecraft our appeal will likely not be heard for at least 1.2 billion years. The little green men on Mars decided not to appeal this decision, but is attempting to meet the new moon requirement. Many of its moons though are being thrown out by the court as merely being large asteroids. So it looks like Mars will loose its planetary status as well.

- Jeff

No comments: