Feeds

Pluto faces expulsion from planetary league

Astronomers to rule on body's status

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.