Planetary Family

Have you seen the latest pics from Pluto?


Mountains made of ice floating in seas of nitrogen.

Volcanoes?  Two, and counting!

Not just one moon, but four!

Not bad for a teeny world that used to be on everyone’s “A” list for planetary parties.

“Huh?” you say?  “Used to be?  What happened?”

Did tiny Pluto commit some kind of party faux pas causing astronomers to send it back to “the hood?”  The Kuiper belt hood, that is.

According to astronomy’s poster child, Neil “8 planets or bust” deGrasse Tyson, Pluto is “just” an example of a Kuiper belt object.  Therefore it shouldn’t rise to the exalted status of a “planet.”

Horror.  Shock.

Millions of school children have learned our solar system’s family of planets number nine since lowly Pluto was plucked off packed plates about a hundred years ago.

Nine!  Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.

And Pluto.

What happened?

Science happened.

Astronomers begged for, and built, bigger better telescopes with which to watch the wondrous heavens.

What did they find?

Stuff.  Lots of stuff.  In fact, they found so much stuff simply floating around in our own solar system that they were having trouble keeping track of it all.

That’s where Pluto got into trouble.

Pluto lives next to the Kuiper belt.  It’s a place where lots of other objects are floating about the sun.  Should all of those objects be “planets?”

In the smoke-filled back rooms of the International Astronomical Union, those power brokers to the stars determined that Pluto was too close to the Kuiper belt for us to trust.  Therefore, like the mafia, they decided to, … … … …, erase it.

“Pluto,” they said, “Pluto, you are dead to us.”

As the popular face of those anonymous power brokers, Dr. Tyson gives us their excuses.  Here’s the best one.

Planet is an arbitrary term.  Lots of things orbit the sun.  Asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, numbering in the millions.  The Kuiper belt.  The Oort cloud.  And all the stuff we shoot up there as well.

What about our own moon?  Or the two moons of Mars?  Should they also be planets?  Where would the madness end?

Astronomers got so confused that they said, “Enough!”  Planets are going to be only these 8, and therefore, Pluto is GONE!

Yes, Dr. T, it’s a good reason.  Yes, being a planet is rather arbitrary.  So, either refine the definition, or ignore it.  That’s logic.  That’s science.

That’s crap.

Dr. Tyson’s reason is the best reason why Pluto should be reinstated as a planet.  Our moon, the asteroids, the rest of the Kuiper belt, they aren’t planets because of one simple reason.


You read me right.  Family.

Being a planet has nothing to do with your size, age, or looks.  You’re a planet because we care.  That’s right.  Us humans care about you.  That’s all it takes.

Like a real family, it’s something you can be born into.  You can marry into.  You can be adopted.  Or maybe you’re a really really good friend who absolutely has to be at all the family events.  Because that’s what family is all about.  It our way of saying, “we care.”

Yes, we care about Pluto.  It’s got a relatively humongous moon!  Super-complex orbits!  Crazy weird and young surface features!

I suggest that we mount an all-out frontal attack on the IAU and their pretty boy Neal to get Pluto back in the fam.

And if they know what’s good for them, they’ll listen.  After all, remember how many years paleontologists tried to get rid of “brontosaurus?”

Guess what?

She’s baaaaack!


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