Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ex-planet Pluto

The word out of some shadowy east European country is that what has been known for over seventy years as the planet Pluto will from now on be known at ‘the sort-of-planet Pluto’, or as ‘the planetette Pluto’, or as ‘the sort-of-planet Pluto formerly known as the planet Pluto’. In any event, Pluto has been downgraded and I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that this is just wrong.

Let’s think it through; way back in the early part of the Twentieth Century, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh had been searching for the supposed Planet X which had been theorized to exist by Percival Lowell some twenty-five years before. Irregularities had been noticed in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune and the search was on. A certain amount of time was spent searching through night sky photographs, and on February 18, 1930 Astronomer Tombaugh found what he was looking for.

Consider for a moment how impressive this is. At that time in history North America was almost as primitive as Eastern Europe is today. Broadband Internet service was not readily available and since the most advanced computer around was an abacus you couldn’t have accessed it anyway. Cell phones were the size of a small car and reception was terrible, and you don’t even want to think about what was on television. It was a harsh environment by any standards yet here was this astronomer pouring over photographs until he found what he was looking for. Good show.

Now, it has been decided by some arbitrary body in Europe, the vast majority of whom were too lazy or hungover to even bother to vote, that Pluto is too small, has a wobbly orbit, and sometimes comes within the orbit of Neptune. Well boo-hoo boys. Suck it up and get over it because you know what? If you don’t, that means that thousands of astronomy tests written over the past seventy years, world-wide, have been marked incorrectly! Now I hope this had been considered, although I doubt it had been, but anybody who answered ‘Pluto’ to the question, ‘name the furthest planet in our Solar System from the sun’ is now in the wrong and whoever answered either, ‘Neptune’ or ‘not Pluto’ is now correct.

Also, consider the feelings of anybody (or ‘anything’) which potentially lives on Pluto (Plutonarianites, as I like to call them). Last week there they are living on a planet, this week they’re living on a wobbly, poorly orbiting chunk of crud which isn’t quite big enough to be called a planet. How would we like it if giant, mega-intelligent balloon-beings living in the mid-atmosphere of Jupiter decided that Earth was kind of dinky, poorly maintained and the orbitee of only one moon so therefore it could no longer be considered a planet? Kind of sucks, right?

For the reasons above I really think that Pluto ought to be reconsidered as a planet in good standing. Thank-you.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Possibly a typical Plutonarianite before he has found out that he no longer lives on a planet, but rather on a sort-of-but-not-quite-a-planet.

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