Astrophysical Object Pluto's Demotion: From Thesis

Length: 6 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Astronomy Type: Thesis Paper: #92220572 Related Topics: Astronomy, Uranus, Planets, Mars
Excerpt from Thesis :

"Once every 248 Earth years, Pluto swings inside the orbit of Neptune. It stays there for twenty years. During those twenty years, Pluto is closer to the Sun than Neptune. During this period of time, like the other eight planets, Pluto's atmosphere undergoes a fundamental change in character, briefly developing an atmosphere. As methane and nitrogen frozen at the poles thaw. As it moves toward its farthest point from the Sun, Pluto's atmosphere freezes and falls back to the ground" (Dejoie & Truelove 2008).

These eccentricities further suggested that Pluto was really much more "like a new group of objects found in the outer solar system," called dwarf planets and not worthy of the status of the other eight (Inman, 2008, p.2). Still, many astronomers argued in favor of a more inclusive definition that would still retain Pluto's status as a planet. In fact, one radical proposal: "would have made full-fledged planets of 50 or more additional objects" (Inman 2008, p.2). One scientist said the language of the resolution is flawed because while it requires that a planet cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." "Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune all have asteroids as neighbors...It's patently clear that Earth's zone is not cleared," he said. "Jupiter has 50,000 Trojan asteroids," which orbit in lockstep with the planet (Britt 2006).

Thus, even today the definition of what is a planet is not absolute. "Owen Gingerich, historian and astronomer emeritus at Harvard who led the committee that proposed the initial definition, called the new definition 'confusing and unfortunate' and said he was 'not at all pleased' with the language about clearing the neighborhood," and called the term dwarf planet "a curious linguistic contradiction," saying "A dwarf planet is not a planet. I thought that was very awkward" (Britt 2006). The dissatisfaction over the reconfiguration of the term had political overtones as well. The IAU was criticized for being undemocratic in the way that it conducted the balloting, given that...


Many ordinary individuals protested the demotion of Pluto, not because they new or cared very much about astronomy, but because they had always learned that there were nine planets, and it seemed strange and unfamiliar to exclude one from that number. Astronomers not permitted to vote were outraged that they did not have a part in the decision-making process. And given that definitions of what constitute planets and other astral bodies will likely to continue to shift, as the knowledge that continually accumulates from space exploration changes dearly-held conceptions of the universe, it may be best for schoolchildren to pause before coming up with another mnemonic to remember the order of the solar system.

Works Cited

Britt, Robert Roy. "What is a planet>" 2 Nov 2000. August 2, 2008.

Britt, Robert Roy. "Scientists decide Pluto's no longer a planet." August 24, 2006.

August 2, 2008.

Cain, Fraser. "Why is Pluto not a planet>" Universe Today. April 10, 2008. August 1, 2008.

Cain, Fraser. "Why do some scientists think that Pluto is not a planet?" Universe Today.

April 19, 2008. August 2, 2008.

Dejoie, Joyce & Elizabeth "Libby" Truelove. "The Dwarf Planet Pluto." High Energy

Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC). August 1, 2008.

Greene, Nick. "Planets…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Britt, Robert Roy. "What is a planet>" 2 Nov 2000. August 2, 2008.

Britt, Robert Roy. "Scientists decide Pluto's no longer a planet." August 24, 2006.

August 2, 2008.

Cain, Fraser. "Why is Pluto not a planet>" Universe Today. April 10, 2008. August 1, 2008.

Cite this Document:

"Astrophysical Object Pluto's Demotion From" (2008, August 02) Retrieved June 16, 2021, from

"Astrophysical Object Pluto's Demotion From" 02 August 2008. Web.16 June. 2021. <>

"Astrophysical Object Pluto's Demotion From", 02 August 2008, Accessed.16 June. 2021,

Related Documents
Astrophysical Implications of Black Holes Astrophysics There
Words: 1073 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Physics Paper #: 92759277

Astrophysical Implications of Black Holes Astrophysics There is a tradition in science for phenomena that are once thought of as impossible or absurd, later become fundamental to the progression of science. The subject of black holes falls within this tradition. Stephen Hawking, a leader in physics, once claimed that the existence of black holes was impossible; later on, he became on the leaders at the forefront of research and topics related to

Twin Stars
Words: 525 Length: 2 Pages Topic: Astronomy Paper #: 65726132

Twin Stars Twins - Typically a word indicating the production of two offspring from the same source of origin, mostly referred during reproductive results. Science Express -- A science publication that electronically publishes selected articles prior to the articles' appearance in print. Matthew Turk and Tom Abel -- Turk was a former astrophysics graduate student of the Kavli Institute, and currently studying at a post-doctoral fellowship at UC San Diego. Abel is an

Philosophy the Cosmological Disagreement Can Take Many
Words: 1735 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Astronomy Paper #: 47744272

Philosophy The cosmological disagreement can take many forms, but it works with the basis since the cosmos (universe) exists, there must be a God. How can the information that the universe exist point to any other conclusion than that the universe exists? The first argues that God must exist because He is "The Temporal First Cause" of the universe. The second argues that God must exist because He is "The Ontological

The Weather in Space
Words: 1151 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Business Paper #: 25890528

Hurricanes and NASA Problems Finding the Distance to Stars Using the Parallax Angle Given the above equation and information provided, about how far away is HT Cas? 133 parsecs parsecs parsecs parsecs Your answer was calculated in parsecs. Given that 1 parsec = 3.2616 light years, about what is the distance to HT Cas in light years? (Your answer in parsecs X 3.2616 light years = The Distance to HT Cas in light years). light years 217 light

Interpretations of Feminist Theology
Words: 937 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Theology Paper #: 57829961

Catherine Keller's On the mystery: Discerning divinity in progress envisions the creation as a living, dynamic thing rather than something that is static and unchanging. The central metaphor which governs Chapter 3 of her book is that of the fish: a fish is constantly moving with the ebbs and flows of the waters around him and instead of drowning or being swallowed up by the waters of change like a

Privatization of Space Travel
Words: 1319 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Economics Paper #: 66288950

Introduction Most application of economic policy is done on either the national, supranational or subnational scales. Seldom is economic policy enacted on the non-national scale. Yet, there is the question of whether there is benefit to applying economic doctrine to space exploration. There is a corollary, in Antarctica, where various nations have signed a treaty committing to scientific activity only on that continent, and not economic activity. Yet, realistically, with space