Feeds

Pluto faces expulsion from planetary league

Astronomers to rule on body's status

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has gathered in Prague to finally settle a matter of galactic import: whether Pluto is in fact a planet or should be relegated to the second division of Kuiper Belt Objects and similar detritus.

Astonomers have to date failed dismally to agree what exactly constitutes a planet, as demonstrated by last year's Xena controversy which saw stargazers claim they'd discovered the solar system's tenth full-fat planet, while others used the opportunity to call for Pluto and Xena's classification as minor planets.

The matter may soon be settled once and for all, The Detroit Free Press reports, as the IAU is scheduled to "consider a resolution that defines a planet". The committee writing the resolution is maintaining a stony silence as to what it will finally recommend, but whatever it decides will inevitably cause a rumpus in either the pro or con Pluto camps.

Steve Maran, author of Astronomy for Dummies told the The Detroit Free Press: "This is such a hot issue. They never rule on things like this. There's a lot more to it than science," alluding to the fact that Pluto is the only planet discovered by an American.

Indeed, the US has a soft spot for Pluto, and any atttempt to downgrade its status will certainly upset large numbers of fanatical schoolkids such as those who in 2000 bombarded the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York with "hate mail" after it omitted the planet from a solar system exhibit.

Robert Williams, a vice president of the International Astronomical Union who's "deeply involved in the deliberations on Pluto", admitted: "My niece said to me, 'Are you going to demote Pluto?'."

Williams did, nonetheless, show his icy scientific cool with: "If that's the way it is, that's what we do. It's not written in stone anywhere there's got to be a numerable number of planets. If it upsets schoolchildren, I regret that." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.