Ben's just this guy, y'know.
Everyone who stuck with Pluto damnit (via plutokiid)
Pluto still isn’t a planet. There was just a public debate in which people expressed a) the thought that Pluto should be called a planet and b) that they wanted to call it a planet. The debate was not official and in no way affects what Pluto is. (If I want to call Pluto a sheep, that doesn’t make Pluto a sheep.)
NASA is calling Pluto a “dwarf planet,” which is undoubtedly confusing a lot of laypeople.
DWARF PLANET = / = PLANET.
Here, let NASA explain it.
Pluto’s troubles began in earnest in January 2005, when a team of astronomers led by Mike Brown of Caltech discovered an object far beyond the orbits of Neptune and Pluto, ultimately named Eris. It was spherical and it was pretty big—slightly larger and more massive than Pluto. And it was just the largest of a slew of spherical objects beyond Neptune that were discovered within a few years of Eris, including Quaoar (pronounced “Kwa-war”), Haumea, Makemake, Orcus, and an object that Brown dubbed “Snow White,” but which is likely ultimately to trade its name for that of a mythological creator deity like the other newly discovered objects beyond Neptune’s orbit.
In all, Brown and his colleagues discovered 14 of these things among the Kuiper belt comets, plus one called “Sedna” which orbits the Sun far beyond the Kuiper belt and may be the first observed resident of a hypothesized inner Oort cloud. Combined with the findings of other astronomers, Brown estimates that about 70 such objects have been observed, although as yet, the International Astronomical Union recognizes only five. All together, he estimates that there are some 200 objects beyond Neptune that are massive enough to pull themselves into spheres under their own gravity.
…we have been distinguishing planets from moons for a very long time. And we’ve been doing so based not only on what these objects are, but also on what they do. If an object orbits something significantly bigger than itself as it circles the Sun, it’s a moon regardless of how big and round it may be. If Titan and Mercury switched places, then Titan would be a planet and Mercury would be a moon.
In 2006, the International Astronomical Union decided to take this approach a step further. In order to qualify as a planet from now on, it decided, not only must an object be massive enough to pull itself into a sphere, and not only must it not orbit anything other than the Sun, it must also dominate its region of space. It must either capture or toss aside the bulk of any asteroids, comets, or other debris in its path, as all the planets from Mercury to Neptune have done. It must unquestionably own its orbit.
By this definition, nothing in the asteroid belt or Kuiper belt can be considered a planet because nothing in those zones has cleared away the asteroids and comets. And the Kuiper belt is where Pluto lives. So now, after 76 years of being the ugly duckling of planets (scrawny and strangely behaved, though beloved by many), Pluto has emerged as a swan in a new category of heavenly bodies: the dwarf planets.
So no. Pluto is still not a planet. But NASA loves it anyway. (And you’ll see how much next year when the New Horizons probe finally reaches Pluto.)