It’s Pluto mania! Everyone has one thing on their mind—Pluto.
New Horizons was launched about a decade ago (January 19, 2006) and recently woke up, stretched its antennae, and opened its glassy eye. What did it see? A fuzzy odd-ball world, which gradually snapped into clarity, as New Horizons set a path of fire across the solar system.
Let’s get down to business, shall we?
I knew this was going to happen.
You can’t bring up Pluto and not have someone spew these fine words of wisdom: Did you know Pluto is not a planet?
That’s when I usually say something like this: Yeah? Says who?
To be obscenely blunt: just because a group of bitchy, hard-boiled scholars locked themselves in a room **cough cough IAU cough cough ** and voted on what they feel a planet should be—doesn’t mean that’s what the definition should be.
I don’t give a fat rat’s ass what Neil deGrasse Tyson says. Dude, like, ummm, sir, you didn’t kill shit, my dear! I assure you—when worms are gnawing on your mortal carcass—Pluto will be there. Pissing on your grave. Okay, okay, so you took down Pluto’s model from the Hayden Planetarium. Did that give you some wood? Did that give you some jollies? I’ll let you in on a little secret: Pluto doesn’t give a shit about models…and neither do I.
Truth be told: I’m not emotionally attached to any planet. Trust me. I have nothing against Neil degrasse Tyson. I read most of his books ( The Pluto Files, Death by Black Hole…) and I recommend that you read them. My definition of killing is simply different than his…that’s all.
Ummm…excuse me…I thought the ancient Greeks defined what a planet was….like…I don’t know…many years ago. Let’s examine the definition, shall we?
Simple. Easy. Cut and dry. No room for debate.
Wait! Waiiiiiit! Hold on there! I know exactly what you’re thinking! Tell me if it goes a little something like this: No way! That definition is too simple! What about asteroids? What about comets? They move against the stars and are surely NOT planets!!!!!
That’s when I look straight into your eyes.
That’s when I look down the pit of your soul and say: Are you sure about that?
Are you sure about that?
Think about it: Why can’t asteroids and comets be planets? Is it because they are not big enough? Come on? What is this? Are we directing a pornographic film, or talkin’ about somewhat spherical cosmic entities? If it’s the latter, then who gives a shit about size? Seriously.
Personally, I don’t care if it’s a microscopic glass bead, or some gaseous monster—they are both planets.
It’s all just solar system trash, right? Come on! Let’s be real! It’s all just trash. We have some soda bottles over here, some broken beer bottles over there, empty cigarette packs all around…don’t mind the used needles.
Every piece of solar debris is a planet—it’s just a matter of trash type:
Asteroids of all varieties
Let’s toss in (for shits and giggles):
No need to be overly complicated. We humans love to slap labels on everything and argue what is what, like we’re the grand arbiters of what things should be called. I’m tired of the grade-school bullshit—we need to move the hell on—and worry about getting the fuck off this rock. At this rate, the sun will bloat into a red giant star, engulf the inner solar system, and guess what? We will still be standing around, thumbs comfortably wedged between our cracks and asking: Is Pluto a planet?
You know what? I don’t care. Call Pluto what you want.
Is in orbit around the sun
Has sufficient mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium (roundness)
Has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit
Ahhhhh! There we go! Number 3.
The problem with number 3 is quite simple: how can an orbit be truly clear? What does clear actually mean? Because…Earth still slams into comet crumbs, which we brilliantly labeled ‘meteor showers’, which implies Earth’s orbit is not completely clear. Does that mean Earth is not a planet? What happens if a planet’s “clear” orbit becomes dirty? Does that mean it’s no longer a planet? What happens if a planet is ejected from the solar system? Does that mean it’s no longer a planet? I’m having way too much fun.
You know what? All those stipulations reek of pure bovine excrement.
Today, I went to my mailbox and discovered a weird green envelope. The return address was marked: 905 Kuiper Belt Lane…Pluto sent me a letter! Would you like to read it? Here it is:
Pluto the Ninth Planet