Planet Classification Overhaul

Update: I have launched a site for just this issue: Demote Pluto!

I’m kind of happy about the IAU’s recommendation for a reclassification of Solar System planets: simply put, “planet” would be defined as a round body orbiting the sun, but the Pluto-Charon system receives “minor planet” status, along with other relatively large, spherical objects in the outer solar system, henceforth to be called “plutons.” As I said just about a year ago, it’s enough to settle for eight major planets, and give Pluto chief position among a new class of smaller faraway bodies of similar size, composition, and orbital eccentricity, thus preserving Pluto’s stature as first of these objects discovered, as compensation for its demotion.

I would argue that “plutons” don’t even need the distinguishment of being regarded as “planets,” officially; it’s enough to lump them in with comets and asteroids and planetoids as part of the leftover debris from the formation of the solar system. That way, we can avoid arguments about whether to number Ceres and Sedna and UB313 among the planets, and just settle for a solar system of “eight planets and a bunch of smaller things.”

More from, National Geographic, Metafilter, Bad Astronomy, WaPo, NPR, Mule Design, and Defective Yeti.