Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Perils of Pluto


I am a regular quizzer. I love answering questions. I know it's sad, but I get a kick out of knowing something really obscure that few others know. I'll take my thrills where I can get them.

This is a note to quizzers about that pesky solar system object known as ‘Pluto’. Planets come up quite often in quizzes, and there is frequently a discussion about Pluto—planet? dwarf planet? orbiting canine? In 2006 Pluto was demoted to the status of dwarf planet. However, many of us have the notion—but originating where?—that Pluto has been recently reinstated to full planetary status … perhaps on the basis of good behaviour? Actually, the idea that Pluto was reinstated arose because of an APRIL FOOLS day story that came out in 2017, claiming that Pluto had been re-planeted. In fact, it’s still regarded as a dwarf planet—or perhaps we should say ‘planet of small stature’? For those concerned about how this demotion has affected Pluto’s psychological wellbeing, you will be pleased to know that there is a group of astronomers trying to change the definition of planet so that it basically means: sub-stellar object of roughly spherical shape. If this definition is accepted, Pluto will once again join the ranks of the planets. Unfortunately, so would 102 other bodies in the solar system. Good luck remembering all their names, quizzers!

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