Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lowly Planet One Day, King Of The Plutons The Next.

According to Spacedaily the IAU's draft definition of a planet will have two general categories. The eight classical planets and plutons, which are objects with orbital periods longer than 200 years beyond Neptune's orbit. Pluto is the prototype pluton. (Here.) This seems workable. Using the draft definition in the article, the number of classical planets is likely to remain small and their names easy to remember. Eventually there are likely to be lots of plutons. But as a minor and far away version of planet, it will make little difference if students do or don't know the names of all of them. And best of all, Pluto will go from being the tiniest and least significant of the planets to being the King of the Plutons. Long live the King!


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