We've got 12 Planets!

It’s official!

The voting membership of the IAU has accepted the draft definition of “Planet.”

This means that we’ve got three new planets, with many many more to come. Ceres, the planet formerly known as an asteroid, takes the coveted fifth planet position away from Jupiter. Charon, the planet formerly known as Pluto’s satellite, is a part of the Pluto-Charon double planet system. 2003 UB313 a.k.a. Xena, is the first of the new Plutons, other than Pluto itself. (Will “pluton” be capitalized or not? Hmmm…)

What do I think this means. Diddly! I think a lot of people will talk about the 8 “classical” planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) plus the 9th “discovered” planet of Pluto, and then lump all the rest into “those other things.”

I think Ceres is going to get the small end of the stick here. Not big enough to be considered a planet for 120 years, it’s not even going to be classified as a Pluton. Red-headed step-child syndrome if there ever was one.

Of course, whether we have 9 planets or 8 or 12 or (soon) a gazillion, it’s all very arbritraryarbitrary. See my last post.

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