A few days ago my parents told me that my three-year-old niece had developed an interest in astronomy, that she had been asking her parents questions about Mars and Uranus, and she wanted to know what all the planets.
“Oh,” I said. “That’s easy.” And I rattled off the list of planets, from Mercury on out to Pluto.
“Pluto’s not a planet any more,” said my mom.
“That’s bullshit,” I replied. “And I will go on saying it’s bullshit. They ‘say’ Pluto’s not a planet for completely bogus reasons. Hasn’t cleared its orbital path? No planet has cleared its orbital path; there are Trojan asteroids at the Lagrange points.” (Yes, I realize this was completely over my mom’s head. Be that as it may…) “The reality is that the muckety-mucks don’t want to deal with the trans-Neptunian objects like Sedna and Eris that are larger than Pluto, and they don’t want to call them planets, so Pluto can’t be a planet.”
And then to punctuate the point, “It’s bullshit. Pluto’s a bloody planet.” I toss off “bloody” in every day conversation the way New Yorkers toss off the F-bomb.
Maybe if we ever find Tyche then order will be restored and the solar system will have nine planets once more.
I bring up Pluto because the New Horizons probe is speading on its way to the planet and will arrive there in three years.
And there’s a movement afoot to get Pluto and New Horizons on a commemorative stamp. Learn more about Pluto and the Postal Service with the video below:
I’ve added my name to the petition for a New Horizons stamp. I like cool stamps.