Pluto: Dwarf Planet to Plutoid

Pluto fans will not be mollified by this, but the IAU has announced a new class of sidus (Latin, celestial body) that will include the “former” ninth planet and its slightly bigger rival, Eris. Nancy Atkinson at Universe Today reports.

Plutoid? I don’t think it has a good ring, but it would be a good Scrabble bingo for a collection of letters without a, e, or s.

Remember the New Horizons mission is a bit past the one-quarter mark on its way to Pluto. Sunday it became just the third human space probe to pass beyond the orbit of Saturn. No imaging of the ringed planet though; NH is in “hibernation” for the remaining years it will take to catch up with Pluto. Saturn is also about 1.4 billion miles behind the orbit crossing point.

My daughter did a science report last year on Pluto. Her class did discuss the controversy over Pluto’s standing as a planet. But her teacher was unaware of the 2005 discovery of the second and third moons, Nix and Hydra.

I wonder if funding for this mission would have been more difficult had Pluto been “demoted” a decade or so earlier.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Pluto: Dwarf Planet to Plutoid

  1. Dustin says:

    Caught this on NPR this morning. I don’t see what was so wrong with “dwarf planet.”

    Third? Don’t you mean fifth? I’m not sure why the linked article fails to mention the two Pioneer probes.

  2. Todd says:

    The Pioneers! Of course.

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