Poor Pluto: Why It Could Be Named a Planet Once Again


Pluto used to be a planet, then it was demoted. But a team of scientists now believes that change was a mistake.

When I was a kid, I learned there were nine planets. I’m sure most of you who are reading this learned the same lesson in science class. To help us remember the names of all nine — from Mercury to Pluto — teachers offered a helpful mnemonic.

“My very educated mother just showed us nine planets,” the saying went. That helped us not only remember the initials of each of the nine planets, it also helped us remember the order from closest to furthest from the sun.

But things went south in 2006, when an organization called the International Astronomical Union stepped in. They reclassified the definition of a planet and Pluto, they said, no longer made the cut. They reclassified it as a dwarf planet.

Those of us who learned the nine planets felt cheated.

Suddenly, the universe — or at least our corner of it— seemed to turn upside down. We didn’t have nine planets. Now we only could claim eight.

Our very educated mothers could show us nine of something. But we no longer knew what that something might be.

A new mnemonic popped up: “My very excellent mom just served us noodles.” Well, let’s face it: you don’t have to be very educated to cook up a pot of pasta. But why are we taking those advanced degrees away from mom? Clearly, a man came up with that one.

Fast-forward to present day. Just when we slowly were letting go of the frustration — some of hold grudges for a long time — a group of researchers are demanding a recount.

They say Pluto say was “unfairly maligned” when it relegated to “dwarf planet” status, NBC News reported. Pluto, they say, should definitely be a planet.

Fantastic! We’re getting our ninth planet back. Our moms get their diplomas back. We can skip those fattening, albeit delicious, noodles.

But wait! Now there’s another problem!

It’s not enough that these researchers just reverse what they call a bad decision about one planet. Oh no, that would be too easy.

Not only do they think the decision to demote Pluto should be reversed, they’re calling for even more planets.

How many? Well, you’re going to have to tell mom’s life story to remember this!

They’re saying we should assume our solar system has not eight, not nine but more than 150 planets.

You read that right: More than 150!!

The IAU’s definition of a planet — that it be spherical, orbit the sun and have gravitationally-cleared its orbit of other objects — excluded Pluto. But the researchers say that definition isn’t based on science. They want the definition of a planet to be the one astronomy used for centuries: A planet is any geologically active body in space.

When you switch to that criteria, that places bodies like Europa, a moon of Jupiter; and Enceladus and Titan, moons of Saturn; and even Ceres — an asteroid — under “planet” status.

A moon shouldn’t be a planet. A planet ought to be what moons orbit. Planets shouldn’t orbit one another. At least, not in my book. But then, I’m not an astronomer. I’m just a Star Trek fan.

So we might have nine planets, or 150+.

Suddenly, having just eight — and a bowl of noodles — doesn’t sound so bad.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.