Is Pluto a Planet? Vote Now!

Pluto was discovered in February 1930, making this month its 80th anniversary. Unfortunately, Pluto is not in such a festive mood as its status was downgraded in 2006 from a fully blown planet to a mere dwarf planet. This is a bit like telling one of your kids that sadly they were adopted and therefore have been left out of the family will. However, the rumblings over a solid definition of a planet have continued to this day, and some people want Pluto back into our family of planets - at which point we could upgrade all the other dwarf planets to full status.

So what defines a planet anyway? Well, I'm going to write a longer article on this very soon, but the thing that got Pluto downgraded is that its orbit not only overlaps with Neptune but is also in a different plane to the other eight major planets. Strangely, NASA still has Pluto in its own planet category and hasn't placed it alongside the other dwarf planets, or planetoids.

Anyway, do you think Pluto should be a planet? You can vote on it during February.


 

The above image (courtesy of NASA) shows the Earth and Moon, with Pluto and one of its moons (Charon) at the bottom, plus Eris and Ceres (both dwarf planets, with Eris being slightly larger than Pluto). The image is to scale. Thus, if Pluto is a planet then so is Eris. Ceres could be a planet but it hasn't cleared its orbit of all the other asteroids. For the moment, all 3 are dwarf planets.

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