Pluto May Regain Status as a Planet

Members+of+the+International+Astronomic+Union+%28IAU%29+vote+to+reinstate+Pluto+as+a+planet.%0D%0APhoto%3A.theepochtimes.com

Members of the International Astronomic Union (IAU) vote to reinstate Pluto as a planet. Photo:.theepochtimes.com

Photo: scienceblogs.com
Photo: scienceblogs.com

 

It was relegated to “dwarf planet” status eight years ago but Harvard astrophysicists are arguing that being small shouldn’t disqualify it, from being a full-fledged planet,  reported  www.theguardian.com.

At the  International Space Union (IAU) conference eight years ago, officials laid out the requirements for a celestial body to be designated as a planet, Mashable reported. The body must orbit around the sun, be spherical, and be the biggest object in its orbit.

Pluto fulfilled the first two requirements, but it was not the largest body in its orbit. That crown belongs to Eris, which is 27 percent bigger than Pluto. In fact, Pluto, with a circumference of just 4,500 miles, is even smaller than Earth’s moon, according to www.independent.co.uk.

Harvard science historian Owen Gingerich, who chairs the IAU planet definition committee, argued at a forum last month that “a planet is a culturally defined word that changes over time,” and that Pluto is a planet, stated www.usatoday.com.

After these experts made their best case, the audience voted on what a planet is or isn’t and whether Pluto is in or out. The results are in. According to the audience, Sasselov’s definition won the day, and Pluto IS a planet, reported www.cfa.harvard.edu.

The video of the debate and audience vote can be seen on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/ObsNights. Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe, www.cfa.harvard.edu.