Thursday, March 13, 2014

Planet mobile with bonus Pluto

In 2006 the IAU announced that a "body can only be called a planet if it orbits the sun, is large enough to have become round due to the force of its own gravity, and has swept its orbital neighborhood clean of large objects."
And thus Pluto was demoted from planet to dwarf planet [1].
(Planet mobile!)
And it was all very sad for Pluto who may well have been the most anthropomorphised lump of rock ever, or at least until some wit stuck a black cape on a stone and called it Lord Bouldermort.

(looking from underneath, the material on the frame of the mobile is black with sparkly 'stars'!)

Some scientists [2] argued that the low turn out at the vote [3] and the fact that the IAU's field of expertise is astrophysics not planetary science mean that they were wrong in deplanetifying Pluto. As far as I can see the IAU's main response to that came from Michael Brown. "Most astronomers, he said, have moved on."
(Close up, going anti clockwise: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus just peeking up)

So New Mexico passed a legislation in 2007 declaring March 13th Pluto Planet day and for that day granting it planet status. Illinois also tried something similar, a one off in 2009. Michael Brown, ever the buzzkill, however stated that Illinois' resolution was "very silly" and that it could be "dangerous to the public understanding". If there is one thing we can be certain of is that Brown does *not* have a "Your mum thought Pluto was big enough t shirt"

Anyway, to celebrate Pluto Planet Day, I snuck Pluto into the mobile, it is above the rest, helping to keep the wires to the frame untangled.  You can see its location better if you go back to the first picture.

[1]Failing on the last criterion - one of its moons, Charon is half the size of Pluto.
[2] Notably (at least in my half hour research) Alan Stern
[3] Just 424 voted. Out of how many no one seems willing to tell me, but I guess you need a couple of thousand scientists to totally get rid of a planet.

1 comment:

  1. I love the mobile!

    I don't really care about the "official" status of pluto. I think it's important to recognise there are other "planets" approximately as big which were never recognised as planets, which most people defending pluto don't mention. But most fields of academia have official terminology which isn't always the same as popular usage. "Dwarf planet" sounds about right to me, but I'm also fine with calling it a planet -- I'd be happy to call larger moons planets too, especially if they had people living there, seeing as how we need a word for "rocky object you can walk around on" more than a word for "body orbiting a star".

    or at least until some wit stuck a black cape on a stone and called it Lord Bouldermort.