A Planet Always

Saturday, August 26, 2006

TO ALL THE astronomers who voted in Prague this week to demote our solar system's smallest planet to the status of "dwarf planet" we ask: What do you know? Ask any third-grader how many planets there are. Nine. Ask whether Pluto is one of them. Of course it is. Ask them whether they care how a bunch of telescope jockeys voted. Of course they don't. So there.

And we're with them -- standing firmly behind Pluto's status as a planet. Yes, yes, other bodies orbiting the sun have as much claim scientifically to full planethood as Pluto. And we can't have this exclusive club getting too big, can we? But still, there's such a thing as tradition. And it's just not right to teach generations of kids that there are nine planets, only then to take one away. Sure, it would be inconsistent to keep Pluto as a planet even as astronomers discover other big rocks out there in space. But, as Emerson might have put it, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of astronomers.

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