Originally Posted by 2airishuman
now for those not following this issue,
pluto was recently about 2b 'unplaneted'...yes that's right we almost lost pluto!
but instead the star guys debating this issue decided to include a whole group of icey bodies way out there....like ub313. we are gonna get MORE planets!
Not quite so fast...the pluto-planet-"icy body" debate is culminating today with a vote. Here is the detailed article from Fox News for anyone interested in celestial happenings which could affect the future of our club.
Pluto's Planetary Status Looks Doomed Ahead of Vote
Thursday, August 24, 2006
PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Pity poor Pluto: After decades of being confused with a cartoon dog and enduring ridicule as a puny poser, the solar system's consummate cling-on is now in danger of losing its status as a planet.
Leading astronomers vote Thursday on new guidelines that for the first time would define what is and isn't a planet. Unfortunately for the ninth rock from the sun, they seemed intent on demoting Pluto to a "dwarf" — a step below Earth
and the seven other "classical" planets.
Fans of Pluto, which was discovered in 1930, will go into orbit if the International Astronomical Union
downgrades it. But under pressure from opponents, the organization has backed off its original plan to retain Pluto's status and bring three other objects into the cosmic club.
If the 2,500 astronomers from 75 nations meeting in Prague agree, Earth's neighborhood will officially shrink to eight planets from the traditional nine. "There would be only eight planets, plus the dwarf planets," said Japanese astronomer Junichi Watanabe, a member of the IAU's planet definition committee.
"Some say, 'No, Pluto is a nice planet'" and should remain one, Watanabe said. "But this is a natural way to draw a line."
Resolutions being considered by the group, the official arbiter of heavenly bodies, would define a planet as "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."
Anything less would be either a dwarf planet, as in Pluto's case, or a "small solar system body," which would cover many asteroids, comets or other natural satellites.
It was unclear how Pluto's possible demotion could affect the mission of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which earlier this year began a 9 1/2-year journey to the oddball object to unearth more of its secrets.
Astronomers want to draw a sharp distinction between the eight "classical planets" — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — and Pluto, which is smaller than Earth's moon, no larger than many objects in its area and has an eccentric orbit.
Joining it as dwarfs would be its largest moon, Charon; the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it got demoted; and a recently discovered object known as 2003 UB313 and nicknamed Xena.
Just a week ago, all three objects were poised to become planets under an initial draft definition that would have created a new class of planetary objects to be dubbed "plutons."
But that idea left many astronomers cold, triggering days of spirited and sometimes combative debate that led to the latest proposal to dump Pluto.
Many believe there's simply no scientific justification to grant full planet status to most of what's floating in the vast sea of rocks that reside in the Kuiper Belt — a mysterious, disc-shaped zone beyond Neptune containing thousands of comets and planetary objects.
Forget the term "pluton" — it's already history, replaced by "plutonium object."
The IAU backed off after getting dozens of objecting e-mails from scientists, including geologists who pointed out — somewhat embarrassingly to astronomers — that "pluton" is already a prominent term in volcano science for deep igneous rock formations.
"What were they thinking?" said Allen F. Glazner, a geologist at the University of North Carolina. "It would be like botanists trying to distinguish between trees and shrubs and coming up with the term 'animal.'"
Suddenly, the future looks dim for much-maligned Pluto, named for the God of the underworld.
Its underdog status has inspired scores of tributes, including one by New York folk singer Christine Lavin that laments: "I guess if Pluto showed up at a planet convention, the bouncer at the door might have to ban it."