Pluto to Rejoin the Party?

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3 October 2014

By Bronwen

There were nine and then there were eight and now it looks like Pluto may be retaking its place as the ninth planet in our Solar System.

The definition of what makes a planet is always changing, and as it stands on this day in 2014, the criteria that makes a heap of rock a planet is-

–          It must be roundish

–          Orbit the Sun

–          Gravitationally dominate its area (cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit)

Some of us may remember hearing the shattering news that Pluto has been booted out of our Solar System because scientists decided it was now a “Dwarf Planet” but, in the words of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre: “a dwarf hamster is still a hamster”.

And quite right too. A vote released by the same organisation showed that the majority of those working in the field of Astrophysics believed that Pluto is in fact, still a planet and should retake its place in our favourite mnemonic: My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets. Ah, don’t we all love a reunion. Of course, Pluto may not have redeemed the mnemonic just yet; it is still a topic to be debated.

The best part about Pluto is it is so strongly linked to England. Pluto was named by an 11 year old girl named Venetia Burney from Oxford after its discovery in 1930. She thought that it should be named Pluto not because of the yellow Disney dog, but because Pluto is the Roman god of the underworld. To this day, it remains the only planet to have been named by a child.

So in the unlikely event of there being a global vote regarding Pluto, we should all vote to have it back in the Solar System.

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