September 21, 2005

Poor, Poor Pluto

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


  1. We'd have to keep Pluto as a planet. After all, there are times it's closer to the sun than Uranus (if that don't sound like a potty joke, I don't know what does).

    Astronomers are getting a little too cute lately naming stuff. Although, it is better than naming it X-21564 or something.

    Imagine the chaos if denizens of Santa attacked Easterbunny? Oh the trauma it would induce on your children!

  2. Vince - now, don't get Uranus TOO close to the sun! bwaaahahaha!

    Couldn't resist. Sorry.

    War between Santa & the Easterbunny? Not sure it would be the first time. ;)

  3. While I think that astronomers have gone too damned far of late with naming heavenly bodies, I guess it's easier than calling them generic names like LV426 or G688.

    RFG brownie go to the first bloggers who correctly identify what movie/TV show those planetary bodies appeared. Double-points to the blogger who can tell me what the OTHER name of the first one is.

  4. Spc - LV426 (Acheron) is the second moon of the fourth planet orbiting the G1 V class star Zeta 2 Reticuli in the Alien series. G688, however...?.

  5. um...I thought that Pluto and Uranus only swap places for a relatively short period of their total orbit...

  6. They simply cannot get rid of Pluto, its one of my ruling planets, and being left with Mars is just not fair

  7. Celti, you rock! (either that, or you did a really good GOOGLE search!).

    I might need to check on the other planet--I may have the wrong #...

  8. Yup...can't remember my planetary numbers--the other planet is G889. I'll save everyone from my screwup--it's the designation for Earth2, from the short-lived TV series of the same name.

  9. Awesome post! I totally vote the next planet be named Jamie. No, it's not for any PARTICULAR reason.. it's just a nice name, no?

    Planet Jamie... Sweet.

  10. The next ine should eb named through public internet voting. If they're going to have lame names, we may as well have some input.

  11. I was reading the other day how they just saw the collapse of an entire solar system.
    It happened billions of years ago but they're seeing it like it's happening today.
    It's a real noodle scratcher, I mean, I get it but it's soooo weird.

  12. I'd totally name a planet after myself. E-Lo, then if I found another one, Fuzzball.

    But Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? Please...

  13. I like the sound of Planet Jamie.

  14. This post made me laugh harder than anything has in the past three days. My cats thank you, they've had to live with evil Julie the past three days.

    I leave you with this old chestnut: "There are Klingons around Uranus."

  15. Derek - Why are you so worried about the position of Uranus? *snicker* I have no idea...

    Inanna - Hey, don't be knockin' on Mars, now...that's my planet. :)

    Spc - *big grin* - recognized LV426 but the other one didn't even ring a bell, even with the right number. lol

    Jamie - Has a nice ring to it, it does. lol

    Pete - good idea!

    Outburst - yikes! That must have been something to see. Astronomy is totally fascinating.

    E-Lo - hey, that sounds pretty cool, too. Ooooh, I really like the sound of planet fuzzball. lol

    Jamie - I bet you do. ;)

    Julie - well, you're quite welcome & so are your kitties. I don't have any Klingons, but I have been accused of being part Vulcan... lol

  16. I've been to Pomona. It's out on the end of Route 60, just south of San Dimas. The aliens there were pretty freaky.

  17. Aren't klingons the things ya throw in the dryer?

  18. now that, I didn't know. Wow. Santa? Easterbunny? WTF?

    Thanks for the info!

  19. Michael - you crack me up. :D

    Mike - ha ha ha ha!

    Undine - WTF, indeed!