Monday, September 18, 2006

More Planetary Scheming

Well, after clarification, and discussion, most scientists now accept the nomenclature of 'dwarf planet'. The reclassification of Pluto has been accepted, and Xena officially named "Eris". This reclassification allows for old Ceres to become a dwarf planet. That's a move up from minor planet. Now, we have 4 gas giants, 4 terrestrial, and 3 dwarf planets. The disagreement comes when you number the planets. The IAU definition says there are only 8. Some say there are now 12+. This is very similar to the 19th century, when asteroids were first discovered. The number grew so quickly, most scientists chose to count only the main, historical planets.

No matter what the IAU says, I still say there are still thousands of planets. If I taught science in school, I'd teach the 12 noteworthy planets, and divide them into three categories. After that, I'd touch on the types of dwarf planets (asteroids and plutinos), and why they aren't considered part of the 8 by the IAU.