Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Amazing, Thrilling Tale of Planet X!

So they've found a Kuiper Belt object larger than Pluto. For those not in the know, the Kuiper Belt is a swath of planatoids outside the orbit of Neptune. Pluto is part of it, leading astronomers to suggest that Pluto shouldn't really be a planet, but merely one rock in a belt of rocks, like Ceres in the astroid belt between Mars and Juipiter.

SLU astronomer Aileen A. O'Donoghue told me that she supports keeping Pluto a planet, largely on grounds of tradition. The good nerds at /. have suggested naming the new planet Pluto and giving the old Pluto some boring name like 2003EL61.

I'd like to go a step further, and simply declare that "Pluto" refers to the largest known object in the Kuiper belt at the time of utterance. Periodically, then, we could have celebrations of the discovery of a new Pluto.

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