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Pluto is a planet (for one day) in Illinois

From National Geographic News:

It took about three minutes for members of the Illinois state senate to make the unanimous vote: “that March 13, 2009, be declared ‘Pluto Day’ in the State of Illinois in honor of the date its discovery was announced in 1930.”

Quietly adopted on February 26, the state resolution is meant to honor Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh, who was born and raised in the farming village of Streator.

“This is one of those things that the village is very proud of,” said Illinois State Senator Gary Dahl, who sponsored the resolution.

“I don’t think we are changing the status of the planet. We’re simply asking that March 13 be declared Pluto Day and that, for the day, Pluto is a planet.”

National Pride

Despite these seemingly humble intentions, the bill has reignited heated debate over what exactly a planet is.

You can read more about it here.

Call me a stubborn traditionalist, but Pluto’s still a planet to me. I agree the IAU had a decently sound process of determining what a planet was:

  • It must be in orbit around the Sun.
  • Must have sufficient mass to achieve a round (or nearly round) shape
  • Must clear its “local neighborhood” of large objects

Naturally, Pluto fails the final criterion, because of its moon, Charon (which is half the planet’s size). What I’m opposed to is the “retroactive subtraction” of a planet.

Abridged version for the “l337”:

Before decision:

“IAU: Hay guyz, Pluto’s a planet and it’s, liek, really phar away.”

After decision:

“IAU: Sorry guyz, but Pluto’s a ‘dorf’ planet now, and there’s nothing you can do about it. lawl.”

…I’m all for the advancement of science, but the traditionalist in me will, personally, always classify Pluto as the 9th planet of our solar system, so that’s that. 🙂

Besides, anyone who has played the classic game of Gyruss on the NES would wonder why the evil aliens would invade a ‘dwarf’ planet.

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