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Monday, August 28, 2006

Pluto: Planet with a Disability

Okay, now I'm mad! A dinky little group of elitist astronomers just voted to demote Pluto from a planet to something called a "dwarf" planet which is actually not a planet at all, but a "trans-Neptunian object". Can you imagine some third grader trying to say "trans-Neptunian object", must less memorize it!

Pluto is one of my favorite planets due to it's spunky out of kilter orbit. You've gotta love a planet that's sometimes the farthest planet out and then, part of the time it cuts inside of Neptune and becomes the next farthest out. It has a little moon called Charon that's almost as big as it is. How cool is that?

There ought to be a Planets with Disabilities Act to prevent discrimination against planets simply because they are size challenged. The term 'dwarf' planet unfairly labels planets of limited stature. What we need is to encourage astronomers to use "planet first" language. I propose we send an official letter to the International Astronomical Union to express our outrage at their discriminatory language toward Kuiper Belt objects like Pluto and demand the use of "Planet First" language. Dwarf planets are planets first, therefore People for the Ethical Treatment of Planets (PETOP) proposes the use of terms like "Planets with size challenges" or "Planets of dimuntive size". In this way we emphasize that objects like Pluto are planets first. Small planets are planets, not dwarfs. No planet should be defined entirely by its size. A planet of diminutive size may have as much or more character as one of those overblown blobs of methane like Jupiter and Uranus!

PETOP also proposes standards for equal accessibility to orbital paths for planets with size challenges like Pluto. These should include protecting a planet with size challenges from being jerked out of orbit or sucked into the gravity well of a gas giant. No planet should be forced to become a moon against its will.

How we'll enforce the PDA, I can't tell you, but, hey, when did that ever stop a bureaucrat from drafting a law.

Just one man's opinion...

Tom King