dwarf planet

SpaceFlight   Mon Jul 09, 2007 3:05 pm GMT
What do you think about this term that the IAU has chosen to referred to certain objects that are not planets, so far Ceres, Pluto and Eris. I think it's kind of confusing. As a dwarf star is a kind of star, shouldn't a dwarf planet be a kind of planet?
Jim   Mon Jul 09, 2007 3:32 pm GMT
I'd agree that it's a poor choice of terminology but we do have "starfish", "hot dog", etc.
Travis   Mon Jul 09, 2007 3:43 pm GMT
Ideally I would be for demoting Pluto altogether from being any sort of planet, but unfortunately that politically untenable due to the sentimentality of many individuals. One way or another, though, it is clear that calling Pluto a full "planet" is unacceptable, both due to its being clearly different from the other planets and due to it being smaller than Eris - if Pluto is a planet, Eris should be one too, but that would open the doors for promoting other similar-sized objects to planethood as well. Consequently, the most politically acceptable solution is to not completely demote Pluto to the status of being an asteroid, but rather to create a new category, dwarf planet, for it and other similar bodies such as Eris and Ceres.
Jim   Mon Jul 09, 2007 5:06 pm GMT
... but Pluto is not any sort of planet just as a sea horse is not any sort of horse ... but of course you know that ... yeah, no, it's due to sentimentality of many individuals that we've got such a name.