The Ninth Planet

With the NASA probe New Horizons just around the bend from the ninth planet, I thought it a good time to once again tell Mike whatzisname, who arranged for a vote against Pluto even more sleazy than the cheat passage of ObamaCare, to publicly suck it.

Quoting myself from this Flare thread:

The IAU did not demote Pluto . . . only a small percentage of its members voted on the topic, without consultation of the rest, and based on the discoverer's false claim that Eris was larger than Pluto. Basically, if he couldn't have it accepted as a tenth planet, he didn't want Pluto to be the ninth.

And please don't tell me you think Pluto is named for the dog.

Pluto was named and accepted as a planet in the scientific community without the IAU. Even with the discovery of Kuiper snowball objects like Quaoar or whatever-the-hell, Pluto stands apart in its qualities.

Further, the IAU does not have any legal authority on the matter, and the fact that some engaged minority can slip in a vote in this fashion simply proves that it hasn't the moral authority, either. More than a few astronomers concur:


Put simply, there are nine planets as far as I am concerned, and Mike Brown can suck it, suck it long, and suck it hard. Given his emotional investment in deleting Pluto (he admits even after evidence showed Eris was smaller that he wishes it was bigger), I admit to dropping to his level there, but it is what he would understand. His find of Eris is little more than a far away dirty snowball with a supremely eccentric orbit well away from the orbit of any other planet, including Pluto.



Further, the definition of a planet having cleared its orbit would not apply to an object like Neptune, which according to some was a Kuiper belt intruder over half a billion years after the formation of the solar system, when the Kuiper belt is thought to have been more massive and closer.

Can anyone really justify having friggin' Neptune not be a planet almost a billion years into the existence of the solar system? If we get sharp eyes or warp drive, can you imagine going to another solar system and seeing a Neptune-type world ploughing through a Kuiper belt and having some asshat say "oh, well, that's not really a planet, because it hasn't cleared its neighborhood"?




Originally posted by MinutiaeMan:
I'm pretty sure the definition of "cleared its orbit" refers to objects of comparable size. There's nothing the size of Earth that shares Earth's orbital zone.

Actually, no, they didn't trouble themselves to define it for the purposes of the definition. There are some precedents for the phrasing but they are hardly agreed-upon standards. Some suggest it only applies to "mature" systems, some say it only applies to clearing planetessimals (lest double planets cease to exist), et cetera, but it is a big mess and not especially scientific.

Unlike their first two criteria (round, orbits the sun), that one is kind of pointless unless you factor in Brown's ego.



Unlike some scientific enterprises which have backing from a government or the UN, the IAU is a rather informal thing (as obviated by the fact that they still haven't troubled themselves to adopt a quorum system).


You mean like the fact it is HALF METHANE ICE by volume so the thing would melt at Earth's distance from the sun? That's truly planet-esque behavior right there,

Actually, yes . . . Neptune's rocky portion is estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of an Earth mass, and at a single AU all that gas and pressured liquid covering it would eventually go bye-bye.

I'm ever so glad you agree.


"Put simply, there are nine planets..."

Whatever you say, Picard.

Thank you for acknowledging that I am on the right side of the argument, Gul.

For reference, I point again to the links provided, such as the first where other astronomers were ignoring the IAU and pondering replacement of it altogether, and the one where a guy who wrote one of the hallmark papers forming the background of "clearing the neighborhood" doesn't think Neptune would be a planet by that criteria, and that Pluto ought to be left in.



Originally posted by Cartman:
2) Please prove this conspiratory agenda existed with arguments stronger than bawwwing from some astronomers who weren't included in the vote (not that their votes would have likely even changed the outcome, read this).

From "this":

"the final vote was taken on the last day of the 10-day event, after many participants had left or were preparing to leave. Of over 2,700 astronomers attending the conference, only 424 votes were cast, which is less than 5% of the entire community of astronomers."

As many noted, even those who were interested had to leave due to the delays and such. The original definition proposal as drafted when everyone was present left Pluto a planet.

Put simply, a responsible body not being pushed by a group with an agenda would've shelved it until next time.

"This is considered irrelevant by some, because polling statistics show that sampling 424 members out of a population of 9,000 yields a result with high accuracy (confidence interval better than 5%)."

This is true only when you are polling a representative sample without any bias. In this case, Mike Brown and the gang were able to get their nonsense in at the proverbial last minute and get it passed with those who remained. The fact that so many in the planetary astronomy community disagree is notable.

It would be interesting to see the schedule of events and see if there were any other big planet events in the final days, or if those were all over and so most of the planet folks would've planned to leave.

"There is also the issue of the many astronomers who were unable or who chose not to make the trip to Prague and, thus, cast no vote. Astronomer Marla Geha has clarified that not all members of the Union were needed to vote on the classification issue: only those whose work is directly related to planetary studies."

This argument is fine, except the very problem is that it was left to an open vote of those who remained.

In this era of the internet, the IAU could've easily responded to the controversy with an e-mail vote among the planetary studies folks, which would've at least gotten rid of this part of the controversy if it went their way.


And as for "when you start with a conclusion and shoehorn reasons to support your conclusion, that's not science", you would be correct except for the small detail that Pluto *still* has more in common with the leftover junk in the outer solar system than with any of the eight inner objects, which we learned only recently by sending probes there (you know, in the name of said science) and was what prompted the whole discussion in the first place.

New Horizons hasn't arrived, so you can hardly claim that we suddenly know Pluto's characteristics. It's kind of alarming that you would even suggest that, really.

But in any case, Pluto shares as many or more characteristics with the other eight planets than it does with Mike Brown's objects. Stick Earth out that far and it'll be an ice-ball, too.


And one more thing.  Pluto, 'cause 'Merica, and because Mike Brown is the Mike Wong of astronomy, emphasis on 'ass'.  ;-)

Actually, seriously though, does it remind you of anything?  A small, opinionated, and loud group tries to change the rules to have their angry little way, while the silent majority know better.  The only difference is that the media have foolishly run with this, supporting the coup.

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