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The Mount McCaber Space Science Institute

Explore the Planets with Professor Sproot

The Case for Pluto - It’s Time to Right a Terrible Wrong.

It was a dark and stormy night in Prague in August 2006 when a dastardly cabal of renegade astronomers staged the most despicable and underhand coup in the whole history of planetary astronomy. On that inauspicious day, whilst the rest of the astronomical community was frantically running for a plane because they had important work to do and so needed to get home, a mere 424 earth-bound and under-employed self-appointed planetary “experts”, no doubt bitter at seeing their personal proposals for telescope time passed over in favour of more interesting galactic and extra-galactic studies, took advantage of the fact that they were the only ones left in the room and voted to strip the solar system's most important object, Pluto, of its status as a fully formed, grown-up planet.

Madness! Utter madness! But there was worse to come! From that point on, instead of being a planet, Yuggoth, sorry, Pluto, would, in future be known as a "plutoid".

Odin's orifices! What were they drinking?

Their argument all hinged on a "new" definition of what makes a planet a planet, which boils down to:

Anyway, the real reason for changing the rules was that there are more Pluto-like objects circling the sun far out in the outer darkness. Letting Pluto stay a planet would have meant letting at least three other objects join the planetary club and these damned elitists snobs don't like opening their doors to outsiders, even if they have discovered a previously unknown force of nature and are Director of a major Institution! May their beards shrivel up and their oxen be eaten by sea-dragons!

So Pluto and it's immediate siblings have, quite literally, been exiled to the Outer Darkness yet any apparent lump of stuff that's found to be orbiting a star other than the sun immediately attracts the name of "extrasolar planet". So how do they know it gravitationally dominates its neighbourhood? How do they even know its round? Some might say this is a just a case of making up special rules for special treatment for exotic new celebrity planets because they are the sort of thing that attracts funding.

Balderdash, we say! Chap should do what we do and fight for his own budget in an honest and upright manner without special pleading or political lobbying. A man should be prepared to stand his ground, Rune-Sword in hand and loyal shieldwall at his back!

In any case, if they really wanted a term for a planet that is smaller than a planet ought to be, but which wouldn't cause the public too much confusion when they heard it on the wireless, they could just have called it a "planette". Obvious, really.