Adios Pluto

The International Astronomical Union voted a set of rules defining just what a planet is and what it isn’t earlier today. Many had thought that the definition of a planet would be expanded to include 3 new planets. However, in a surprising turn of events, the new definition of planet has demoted Pluto to “dwarf planet” status. Now the solar system has officially 8 planets, putting to rest controversy that has surrounded Pluto since its discovery in 1930.

An excerpt of the official definition of a planet, as decided by the IAU is as follows:

“a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a…nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.”

Since Pluto has an orbit that overlaps that of Neptune, it is automatically disqualified since it has not “cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.” Wow, I never thought that the solar system would grow or shrink during my lifetime. I guess you’ll have to tell your kids, “when I was young there were actually 9 planets, but we ‘dwarfed’ one of them.”

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