In planetary news from our solar system, it seems that Santa and Easterbunny will be replacing Pluto in our lineup. Poor Pluto! What did he ever do to be treated like this?
Like so many planets, Pluto is named for a Roman god, in this case the god of the underworld. Uranus is not, as many might think, the God of childish humor - he is instead the god of the heavens and the husband of the earth and the father of the Titans. Uranus was castrated and dethroned by his own son, Kronos (ouch!) Astronomy is fun if you know how to look at it.
Pluto is the farthest planet from the sun, and beyond Pluto is the Kuiper Belt, where the comets come from. As the telescopes have grown more powerful, scientists (who, by the way, could be spending time exploring the origins of the universe instead of mucking about in the Kuiper Belt) have discovered objects larger than Pluto.
So we have to ask the question: If these things are larger than Pluto, why are they not planets? They revolve around the sun, they're made of rock... I didn't think the rules for entering the planet club are not all that strict.
The first object beyond Pluto (and bigger than Pluto) was named Xena, after the warrior princess played on television by Lucy Lawless. You want a benchmark of the decline of classical education in this country? There it is. It's not as though all the Roman Gods were taken -- Pomona is a Roman god. Wouldn't it be nice to have a planet named Pomona? ...But if you find it, you name it - that's the rule.
So then scientists discovered two more objects beyond Pluto. They called these objects Santa and Easterbunny. Honest! Since it is likely that there are many more planet-sized objects in the Kuiper Belt, we're soon going to have to deal with planets named Sneezy and Jackbauer.
You see the dilemma. Unless we want our kids to fester in a stew of cognitive dissonance, we're going to have to add a whole bunch of new planets. Alternatively, we're going to have to lose Pluto, declaring that anything beyond the orbit of Uranus does not qualify no matter how big and flashy it is. Uranus is the end of the solar system. Oh, shut up.
OK, Neptune is farther out from the sun than Uranus, but where's the fun in that? Let me take a moment to mention that Santa, unlike proper planets, is shaped like a cigar and tumbles end over end around the sun. Thank heavens Santa didn't develop an atmosphere, or we'd be looking at some very strange life forms. Besides, what kind of science fiction movie would that make? "We come from the planet you call Santa." That would to ruin a lot of Christmases.
As for aliens from Easterbunny - the thought is unbearable. It's as though Adolf Hitler had been renamed Sparkle Twinkletoes. Names are too important to be left to astronomers, particularly astronomers with perhaps a small substance abuse problem like the folks on the Kuiper Belt beat.
I certainly like the name "Sparkle Twinkletoes" better than freakin' Easterbunny! lol