Friday, August 25, 2006

...And Then There Were Eight

Oh Pluto, we hardly knew ye. Relegated to the far nether regions of the solar system, you have dimly touched our imaginations for lo these many years. Only relatively recently had you become once again the ninth planet from the Sun (after spending a number of years closer to the Sun than Neptune due to your slightly elliptical orbit). But no longer. Poor little Pluto…perhaps it just was never really meant to be.

I have followed with more than passing interest the news coming from the proceedings of the International Astronomical Union during the last several days. It seemed that your planetary status would be confirmed once and for all at first, and even that you would be joined in the celestial dance of solar system planets by three others. Perhaps it was their fault that you got kicked out of the club. We should learn from this how important it can be which friends you ought to associate with. Perhaps it all stemmed from a reluctance to admit ‘Xena’, but they knew they couldn’t keep her out and keep you in?

Well Pluto, I suppose that this news will not be too great a heartbreak for you. After all, it may be some time before you even hear the news of your demotion to ‘Dwarf Planet’ (though some ‘political correctness’ group is probably already working on a less derogatory appellation – perhaps ‘Planetoid of Lesser Mass’ or some other such foolishness). No, I suppose your existence will continue on much the same as it always has. Frigid, dark nights followed by frigid, only slightly less dark days. At least you still have Charon there to commiserate with and to keep you company.

Oh, and the good news is that NASA’s ‘New Horizons’ spacecraft is still on its way for a visit. I should arrive in a little less than nine years, so be looking forward to that. Sadly, it won’t be able to stay long, but it’s the best thing we’ve got going, and given the latest news, I wouldn’t be expecting much more than that if I were you. At least not until we humans master the science of space flight at high velocities anyway, and then we’ll likely only stop long enough to put up a few billboards for the passing Kuiper Belt Cruise Lines ships to see. We’re kinda like that down here.

Perhaps it’s for the best, really. You are at least getting a lot of attention right now down here. Some folks say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, after all. Sadly, the furor and ruckus will all calm down after a brief time – at least by the time Tom Cruise or Paris Hilton do something newsworthy. Hmm, that reminds me – I haven’t checked CNN yet today, so it could already have happened for all I know.

Still, you’ll always be a planet to me.

[OK Neptune, move to the back of the line. Yeah, that's right. Move along now, move along...]


Anonymous said...

BGOAB, this was a good post. Goon Squad Sarah was just talking about this. So are there really 12 planets, but then Pluto isn't one so then there would be 11? But where did the extra 3 come from?

Science is confusing!

Mominator said...

So sad. Poor Pluto.