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Around 2,500 scientists and astronomers are meeting in Prague to discuss Pluto

Pluto has been surrounded by controversy since it was spotted in 1930 by US astronomer Clyde Tombaugh.  The main debate around the small planet is whether or not it truly qualifies to be a planet.  To help settle the debate, or further complicate the situation, the International Astronomical Union is going to meet to decide Pluto's fate during a 12-day meeting.  The 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries are meeting to speak about planets.  As many as 14 "planet-like" bodies may need to be considered if the panel of scientists and astronomers decides that Pluto will remain a planet.  One alternative that is being considered is for the union to demote Pluto into its own category -- which would leave Earth's solar system with only eight planets.

Large planet-like bodies located in the Kuiper belt has caused some confusion for astronomers.  The largest body in the Kuiper belt, 2003 UB313, has a diameter of almost 1,490 kilometers, which is around 110 kilometers larger than Pluto's diameter.  Along with 2003 UB313, there are several other bodies that could technically be classified as planets.  The size, location, formation method and orbital characteristics may now be included in the new definition of a planet.  The 10th major body in our solar system, for example, is larger than Pluto but has not been classified a planet either.

A new and easier way to define what a planet is will be released on Wednesday.  The meeting in Prague opens today and is scheduled to last 12 days.  Earlier this year scientists using the Hubble telescope discovered that Pluto has two additional large orbiting bodies around it

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It still works!
By jonnyboy88 on 8/15/2006 12:30:35 AM , Rating: 2
My very educated mother just served us nachos!

RE: It still works!
By TomZ on 8/15/2006 12:43:09 AM , Rating: 2

RE: It still works!
By Etsp on 8/15/2006 2:52:25 AM , Rating: 3
(M)ercury, (V)enus, (E)arth, (M)ars, (J)upiter, (S)aturn, (U)ranus, (N)eptune.

(M)y (V)ery (E)ducated (M)other (J)ust (S)erved (U)s (N)achos

RE: It still works!
By theapparition on 8/15/2006 7:28:18 AM , Rating: 2

That's the best since:

Bad Boys Ravish Only Young Girls But Violet Gives Willingly!

10 points to anyone who knows what that means.
-10 points if you have to google it.

RE: It still works!
By XtremeM3 on 8/15/2006 8:26:20 AM , Rating: 2
RE: It still works!
By shecknoscopy on 8/15/2006 9:12:54 AM , Rating: 2
*Sigh* I had to look it up. Damn, I needed those 10 points, too. How about:

(K)ing (P)hillip (C)ame (O)ver (F)or (G)reat (S)ex.

For the PG-13 crowd, he can also come over for great (S)wimming, but I've never known him to. The dude hates swimming.

RE: It still works!
By masher2 on 8/15/2006 9:57:34 AM , Rating: 2
I learned it as the more G-rated, "(K)ids (P)refer (C)andy (o)ver (F)resh (G)reen (S)pinach"

RE: It still works!
By shecknoscopy on 8/15/2006 1:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
I learned it as the more G-rated, "(K)ids (P)refer (C)andy (o)ver (F)resh (G)reen (S)pinach"

Man, that's just more political propaganda from the Big Spinach lobby. I can't believe they got Senator Popeye elected.

RE: It still works!
By WAD on 8/15/2006 11:04:33 AM , Rating: 2
bad boys rape our young girls but violet gives willing

thats the 60's version and refers to the electronic resistor color code

all seems silly, really...
By johnsonx on 8/14/2006 8:02:36 PM , Rating: 3
Why don't they just define a planet how they want to, and if Pluto doesn't meet the definition then just grant it a waiver. In other words, Pluto's a planet because we say it is, period. For all other objects, consult the official 'definition of a planet'.

That way they can have a sensible planet definition, but we can still have our 9 planets that we learned in school. None need to be added, and none need to be taken away.

By beepandbop on 8/14/2006 8:13:45 PM , Rating: 2
This whole caring about Pluto is stupid. Who cares?
Just respecify the parameters and leave it at that, why worry about something that's probably not going to affect us til the Sun starts to really blow up.

RE: all seems silly, really...
By bokep on 8/14/2006 8:28:35 PM , Rating: 2
As our knowledge of the universe continues to advance and more astronomy makes its way to children's textbooks in school, wouldn't you rather have a solid definition of what a planet is? Your point about giving Pluto a "waiver" if they decide that it doesn't meet the requirements of what a planet is pretty goddamned stupid; you want to keep the 9 planets as-is just because it would be inconvenient to you to redefine the number of planets in our solar system?

It would be like people in Copernicus and Galileo's time going "OK so we believe you that the earth rotates around the sun, but let's keep it backwards because that's how we learned it in gradeschool".

RE: all seems silly, really...
By TomZ on 8/14/2006 8:58:43 PM , Rating: 3
It would be like people in Copernicus and Galileo's time going "OK so we believe you that the earth rotates around the sun, but let's keep it backwards because that's how we learned it in gradeschool".

This is a bad analogy, because in the case you state, there was a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of things. In the case of Pluto, the existence of pluto is not being debated, just its classification as planet or non-planet. The latter discussion is relatively academic and doesn't change our fundamental understanding of our solar system at all. Therefore, I think this decision is a "don't care" for most people.

RE: all seems silly, really...
By Spinne on 8/14/2006 10:23:33 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it isn't even academic, it's just about personal preferance. Physics doesn't care about weather you call it a planet or a freaky hippie with a really large mirror, it'll still go around the CoM of the Solar System. I'm guessing that the only people who'll be discussing the status of Pluto, and won't be on a long coffee break, will be the groups who found the other large balls.

RE: all seems silly, really...
By xsilver on 8/14/2006 10:24:25 PM , Rating: 2
yes and also in the case of pluto, it would be spitting in the face of the people who discovered it. In the copernicus/galileo instance, the church activly opposed the paradigm shift, whereas the people who discovered pluto, simply didnt have enough info.

personally, I think either way is fine, its not like its going to make an astronomical difference to our lives (pun intended)

RE: all seems silly, really...
By KashGarinn on 8/15/2006 10:09:59 AM , Rating: 2
Firstly, you don't write (pun intended) when you pun.. that defeats the point with a pun.. at most a smiley but never (pun intended).

Secondly I find it amusing that peoples' emotions are affecting whether pluto be viewed as a planet or an asteroid.. we're not talking about a cute lil dog from the disney cartoons, we're talking about a cold cruddy rock-formation from the backnecks of the solarsystem. The fact that pluto is incorrectly classified as a planet, or that it bears a widely recognisable name does not necessarily mean that it should hold its status as a planet when it isn't a planet.

Let's call a spade a spade, and pluto an asteroid. Everyone knows it's the right category for the thing.

I think it's the first time I've seen the "rose by any other name would smell as sweet" analogy as completely false.. as no one wants to recategorise pluto into an asteroid.. well, this and the fact no one wants to rename roses to farts.


RE: all seems silly, really...
By johnsonx on 8/17/2006 1:12:39 PM , Rating: 2
Your point about giving Pluto a "waiver" if they decide that it doesn't meet the requirements of what a planet is pretty goddamned stupid; you want to keep the 9 planets as-is just because it would be inconvenient to you to redefine the number of planets in our solar system?

Nice debating tactic asshat. You're right, all these scientists are meeting to discuss this solely because of MY PERSONAL CONVENIENCE.

There are obviously many scientists who wish to keep Pluto as a planet, but also want to have a reasonable definition of what exactly a planet is. They realize if they loosen the definition enough to legitimately include Pluto, then there's a dozen other Kupier belt objects that have to be planets now too. That creates a bit of a mess.

Now, since ultimately what a planet is and isn't is somewhat arbitrary and necessarily complex, let's just allow Pluto to be called a Planet and be done with it. Pluto must qualify at least somewhat, since it was discovered in 1930 before many of the modern methods of detecting small, distant objects were developed. No one knew about any of these other 'pluto-esque' Kupier Belt objects until comparitively recently.

That's not remotely the same as continuing to say something that's patently untrue, such as your earth-around-the-sun example.

Oh, but hey, you're right, nevermind all of that, it's all about my personal convenience.

By JaredExtreme on 8/14/06, Rating: 0
RE: .
By retrospooty on 8/14/06, Rating: 0
RE: .
By Soccerman06 on 8/14/2006 7:40:46 PM , Rating: 2
What parameteres must an object in space have to be considered a planet?

RE: .
By retrospooty on 8/14/2006 9:34:00 PM , Rating: 2
I am not sure the exact specs, but Pluto has been determined to be a large asteroid. To me, as mentioned it should be at least 1% as big as uranus.

RE: .
By aGreenAgent on 8/14/2006 10:39:40 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think it's been determined to be a large asteroid...

RE: .
By Mclendo06 on 8/14/2006 11:04:48 PM , Rating: 2
What parameters must an object in space have to be considered a planet?

The Problem is that no such parameters exist. One of the things that I've read is that the way they may axe Pluto's planet status is by making such a set of parameters which would exclude Pluto. When first discovered, it was thought that Pluto was closer to Earth's size, not Earth's moon's size, and so the body was quickly given "planet" status. As it ends up (as the article states) if something the size of Pluto counts as a planet, then we know of a number of other objects that could count as well, not to mention the potential hundreds or thousands of specs out there that our telescopes haven't noticed yet. I say that when you compare Pluto to Neptune, given the extreme disparity in size and Pluto's highly ecccentric orbit (comparitively) in addition to the similarities between Pluto and other Kuiper belt objects, it is hard to see how you can justify keeping Pluto classified as it is. Really the only thing Pluto has going for it is that it has a body orbiting around it (a moon of sorts).

RE: .
By nyte on 8/15/2006 6:03:48 AM , Rating: 2
not to sound like an idiot, but what do you mean by 1% as big as Uranus? at first i thought you meant at least 1% of Uranus' size (jokes aside) but that would be too easy, so what exactly do you mean.

RE: .
By Brainonska511 on 8/14/2006 7:36:32 PM , Rating: 5
Fry: "Hey, as long as you don't make me smell Uranus." *laughs*
Leela: "I don't get it."
Professor: "I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all."
Fry: "Oh. What's it called now?"
Professor: "Urectum. Here, let me locate it for you."
Fry: "Hehe, no, no, I think I'll just smell around a bit over here."

RE: .
By shecknoscopy on 8/15/2006 9:24:37 AM , Rating: 2
GUEVARA: With depravity I break laws of gravity/ Blast past the atmosphere to the last frontier/ I go boldly through space and time/

BOTH: The sky's the limit but they're limiting the sky

GUEVARA: I break orbit by habit/ I ignite satellites and leave rings 'round the planet/ A flying ace like that beagle/

(SPECIAL: laughs )

GUEVARA: Neveretheless this alien remains illegial/ Cause their discovery don't cover me/ The immigrants been left in the cold to grow old and disintigrate/


GUEVARA: 'Cause small minds can't see past Uranus/ But I shun their race/ 'Cause stun's just a phrase/

BOTH: and my odyssey runs in 2000 and 1 ways

GUEVARA: And I can see clearly now like the Hubble/
Kicked off the shuttle/
Here's my rebuttal/

2 Skinnee J's. Anyone?

What does Pluto have to say about it!
By imaheadcase on 8/14/2006 6:27:12 PM , Rating: 4
Don't make Pluto mad, don't you dare.

RE: What does Pluto have to say about it!
By frobizzle on 8/14/2006 6:58:59 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps we should send a blue ribbon panel of politicians from Washington to Pluto to determine the truth!

By BladeVenom on 8/15/2006 7:16:08 AM , Rating: 2
"One Way Ticket to Pluto" -Dead Kennedys

With only 8 planets...
By The Boston Dangler on 8/14/2006 7:54:21 PM , Rating: 5
we'll be the laughingstock of the galaxy

RE: With only 8 planets...
By The Cheeba on 8/14/2006 11:34:32 PM , Rating: 2
You just made my day.

What about astrology?
By PrinceGaz on 8/15/2006 7:23:09 AM , Rating: 2
It probably doesn't matter to most people whether or not Pluto is considered to be a planet, but I bet the astrologers won't be happy as they'll have to re-write their books and forecasts.

RE: What about astrology?
By OrSin on 8/15/2006 9:01:58 AM , Rating: 2
It will make them happy. Since a rewritten book is resold as well.

RE: What about astrology?
By masher2 on 8/15/2006 9:54:27 AM , Rating: 2
Classic astrology doesn't count Pluto as a planet either-- or Uranus or Neptune, for that matter. It does include the sun and moon as planets though.

New planetary classification?
By psychobriggsy on 8/15/2006 6:43:50 AM , Rating: 3
Right now we have rocky planets and gas giants, what's wrong with adding 'icy bodies' and thus adding some 10-20 more planets to the solar system, even if they're minor insignificant planets.

Keeping one of those planets a planet for historical reasons is retarded, however Pluto is the only planet discovered by an American, so there may be some political pressure to keep it a planet even if they demote the other Kuiper Belt objects. There's no reason to keep it at 9 planets because we're afraid of change.

There's plenty of discussion over what makes a planet a planet. Good scientific reasons are fine by me, emotional or political aren't.

One reasonable difference between a planet and a generic body in space is that the planet has enough gravity to form itself into a general spherical shape. This would, however, also mean that Ceres (the largest asteroid) would be classified as a planet. You could add limitations, such as the body must not be in a belt of bodies - that would solve the Kuiper Belt issue as well, but it seems quite arbitrary. Another limitation could be that the body must have formed when the Sun formed. Pluto is arguably a captured body, it's orbit is highly eccentric, so there's strong reasons for it to not be classified as a planet. However orbital eccentricity is a variable - how eccentric is too eccentric?

It will be interesting to see what they decide, as long as they explain their reasoning instead of simply saying "this and that are planets, these aren't" without reasons.

2500 scientists in Prague?
By lemonadesoda on 8/15/2006 4:04:08 PM , Rating: 2
OMG what a party! I'm sure they will be spending most of their time comtemplating other things that Pluto.

Make that 12 planets
By UlricT on 8/16/2006 6:46:17 AM , Rating: 2
check out this link:

Charon, UB313 and Ceres are making it in as well.

By Clauzii on 8/17/2006 8:07:19 PM , Rating: 2
"Come on, Pluto" :)

Simple solution...
By bunnyfubbles on 8/14/2006 10:42:52 PM , Rating: 1
Any planet-like object that orbits the Sun and behaves like a planet and can be discovered with 1930s (or previous) level of knowledge and hardware is to be considered a planet.

Most of the other objects (including the ones bigger than Pluto) generally are way out there and thus illuded discovery until very recently when methods and equipment were able to find them.

Even though Pluto is way out there, its actually pretty damn close to the Sun compared to the other objects in question.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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