Who knew people thought a dog was a planet?
Pluto Demoted: No Longer a Planet in Highly Controversial Definition
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 24 August 2006
09:35 am ET
Capping years of intense debate, astronomers resolved today to demote Pluto in a wholesale redefinition of planethood that is being billed as a victory of scientific reasoning over historic and cultural influences. But already the decision is being hotly debated.
Officially, Pluto is no longer a planet.
“Pluto is dead,” said Caltech researcher Mike Brown, who spoke with reporters via a teleconference while monitoring the vote. The decision also means a Pluto-sized object that Brown discovered will not be called a planet.
“Pluto is not a planet,” Brown said. “There are finally, officially, eight planets in the solar system.”
The vote involved just 424 astronomers who remained for the last day of a meeting of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Prague.
“I’m embarassed for astornomy,” said Alan Stern, leader of NASA’s New Horizon’s mission to Pluto and a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute. “Less than 5 percent of the world’s astronomers voted.”
“This definition stinks, for technical reasons,” Stern told SPACE.com. He expects the astronomy community to overturn the decision. Other astronomers criticized the definition as ambiguous.