back to article Pluto demoted again

Pluto has suffered a further humiliation following its 2006 ejection from the league of planets - official demotion to "second biggest dwarf planet" status. The bad news is that Pluto is actually smaller than recently-discovered Eris, Reuters reports. More exactly, Eris is 27 per cent more massive than the former planet, …


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  1. Ned Fowden

    Pluto IS a planet

    scientists changing standards of what can be classed as a planet does not change the fact that sinec the discovery of this heavenly body, we have been taught that it is a planet.

    just because they come up with new ideals every day and most of them find time to disagree with one another cannot change this schooling.

    regardless of what happens in the future, Pluto will always remain a planet for me.

    always has been always will be

  2. Andy

    Planet shmanet, Janet

    Just becase we were taught it was a planet doesn't mean it always will be one.

    The truth of the matter is that the term "planet" is a useless one. To astonomers, it means nothing.

  3. Jamie Jones Silver badge


    Yes, Ned, and the Earth is still flat, and the sun and stars revolve around it.

  4. Peter W

    sorry Ned

    Pluto isn't a planet - all you've stated is that many people in this generation will continue to consider it one, but the next generation won't.

  5. Shane Lusby

    Just because?

    So using the above logic does that mean the Earth is still flat and the center of the universe simply because they once taught that it was? Should Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta be returned to planethood? They were all considered planets at one point despite being part of the Asteroid belt.

  6. Chris

    Re: Pluto IS a planet

    The point you have made there tends to go against all of history.

    Every time a new scientific discovery is made or standards are changed or new definitions are brought in, our teaching has to alter to suit.

    This isn't the first time that our education has proved to be "wrong" and I'm quite sure that it won't be the last either.

    People living in the dark ages probably had the same thoughts when scientists/doctors/monks/etc... said that objects do not contain phlogiston which allows them to burn; the theory was wrong and we had to change our views and teachings to suit.

  7. Kate

    Political Correctness reaches space?

    It seems that Political Correctness has also reached outer space, dithering over what constitutes a planet, give it a few more months and there will be law-suits protecting Pluto's 'rights'. I can just see the headlines now "scientists sued over discriminatory and derogatory comments made against heavenly body".

    At least that would be the topic of conversation if the EU had anything to do with it.

    What's next, Uranus being expelled from the league of planets for being obscene?



  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Pluto IS a planet

    People used to think the world was flat - then scientists discovered it wasn't. People used to think that the atom was solid until they discovered it was mostly empty empty space.

    People are adverse to change but I think this one is for the better - Pluto is now a "dwarf planet".

  9. Lickass McClippers

    Pluto ISN'T a planet

    Deal with it, it's a planet-wannabe that loiters at the edge of our solar system...

  10. Mike Ward

    Give him a break

    Give Pluto a break... he's only a cartoon... oh wait is this the right topic?

  11. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    To be fair about Earth's flatness...

    To be fair about Earth's flatness, the ancient world knew damn well that the Earth was not flat. They did, however, think that it was a perfect sphere, and considering the knowledge available and this mistake their estimate of it's mass was appreciably accurate. Nor did the ancient world suffer from the delusion that the Earth was the centre of the universe - although they did tend to treat the sun as the centre of the universe.

    The flatness of the Earth (and it's centre of the universe) was a much later European (I believe) invention - and while here in Europe were being taught that the Earth was flat, and everything went round it, the rest of the world got on with life safely in the knowledge that they wouldn't fall.


    Science is a field where certainties are very rare, and any theory only exists until it's been dis-proven. As a result scientists have to change their viewpoint regularly. Pluto has always been an oddity and as we discover more Kuiper belt objects (there are bound to be more), it'll just be one of many. This doesn't make Pluto any less Pluto, just not a planet in the now accepted description of a planet.

  12. Martin Benson

    Holst's Planet Suite

    When Holst wrote his suite "The Planets", it was seven movements only, and finished with "Neptune". (The Earth wasn't included.) In 2000, Colin Matthews was commissioned to add an eighth movement called Pluto, which was premiered in Manchester in May 2000, and also played at the Proms that year.

    It was therefore inevitable, by Sod's Law, that Pluto would lose its designation as a planet.

  13. Alex

    Dwarf planets are not planets?

    Does the same logic apply to dwarf people then? Hmm?

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  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Lickass McClippers

    So... you're saying that we need to call the cops on it and get it the beating it so badly deserves? I bet it's been tagging stuff in the Kuiper belt and shoplifting!

  16. fluffy

    Inanimate objects hate being anthropomorphized

    I'm pretty sure Pluto doesn't really care what some specks of carbon on a lump of rock thousands of millions of miles away calls it. Or about anything else, for that matter.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Today's planet is tomorrow's dwarf ice body

    So much fuss over the designation! My God ... who cares!! Get over it!

    The fact of the matter is that science will forever be refining its understandings, definitions and classifications of EVERYTHING.

    So cling to your own "burned-in" designation of Pluto until you die! But just know that there will be legions of eager minds coming behind you that will know Pluto not as a planet but as a dwarf planetary ice body (or something like that).

    Long live science and the pursuit of knowledge & truth! March on...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hail Eris!

    Worry not for Pluto, be joyful in our goddess'es recognition.


  19. Nick Leverton

    Holst's Planet Suite

    >When Holst wrote his suite "The Planets", it was seven movements only, and finished with "Neptune". (The Earth wasn't included.) In 2000, Colin Matthews was commissioned to add an eighth movement called Pluto, which was premiered in Manchester in May 2000, and also played at the Proms that year.

    >It was therefore inevitable, by Sod's Law, that Pluto would lose its designation as a planet.

    Let's just hope nobody writes a movement called "Earth" ...


  20. David

    No definition needed

    Actually, I suspect most people couldn't care less what things are called, whether everyone agrees or not. Mercury is not like Venus is not lie Earth is not Mars... etc. so any grouping is essentially meaningless.

  21. Sergei Andropov


    The discovery that Eris is larger than Pluto is what catalyzed this whole controversy in the first place. All that's new is that we now know exactly how much bigger it is.


    I disagree that "any grouping is essentially meaningless." A quick look at the solar system shows that there are three basic kinds of solar satellite: those closest to the Sun are small and rocky, the next ones out are large and gaseous, and the most distant ones are small and icy, and also have erratic orbits. You could call all three groups planets, but I'm not sure how you could logically include the first two groups, which don't even remotely resemble each other, while excluding the third group, which is very similar to the first.

  22. chuck budreau

    Dwarf "PLANET"

    Am I the only one who read the word "PLANET" in the phrase "Dwarf Planet"?

    Gas Giants are not planets they are "Gas Giants". Had Jupiter been a little larger it would have been a star. Does that make the Sun a planet?

    As for all of this anthropomorphizing of bodies of rock, gas, and Ice, no they don't care they are just rocks, gas and Ice.

    However I have added writing a suite for Eris to my things to do list.

    --chuck budreau

  23. Steve Roper

    Pluto is NOT a planet

    Decades ago, before all this furore about Pluto came to light, I remember having a discussion with my primary school science teacher. He'd taught us about the "9 planets" and also about the asteroids Ceres, Icarus and Vesta. He talked about asteroids and how they orbit differently to planets (ie highly elliptical, out of the ecliptic, crossing the orbits of other planets) After class, I (being a science geek even then) asked the teacher what made Pluto a planet and not Ceres or Vesta. After all, Pluto's orbit is off the ecliptic and it crosses Neptune's orbit. Yet Ceres orbits on the ecliptic and doesn't cross any planetary orbits, but it's still an asteroid because it's part of the asteroid belt. He told me that he really thought of Pluto as an asteroid himself, because it was part of the Kuitper belt, but the books called it a planet, so that's what he had to teach.

    Suffice to say, I adopted his point of view and since that fateful schoolday back in 1978 I'd always maintained that Pluto is an asteroid and that our solar system has 8 planets.

    When the IAU announced the official demotion of Pluto recently it was like a lifelong vindication. I felt like screaming "I told you so! I've been telling you all these years Pluto isn't a planet! I was right all along!" I rejoiced that this obvious fact had finally been made official. And I was aghast at all the idiots who went bananas over it! When I saw a class full of kids wasting time making "save Pluto" posters, the only thing I could think was that if I'd had a kid in that class, I'd have pulled him out of it immediately.

    Pluto is NOT a planet. I've said since childhood that it is not a planet. It's space debris, part of the Kuitper belt surrounding the solar system. Now that the scientists have finally made official what anyone with primary-school level astronomy should have known in the first place, GET OVER IT ALREADY!

  24. Glen Goergen


    And not a finer use in the land

  25. Glen Goergen

    Does anyone of true import really give a rats ass?

    Am I the only one in the world that thinks that the folks that make all these types of decisions have way too much time on their hands?

    It is a planet!

    no it's not a planet!

    As Tyra Banks would say " SO WHAT?"

    is it headed for collision with earth?

    Are we trying to inhabit it?

    Is someone selling real estate out there?

    Unles the answer to all the above queries is a resounding yes can we get on with the important things is life ? Like the price of petrol and or a pint of stout?


    Somebody needs to tell those overstressed planet sizing geeks there are more important things in life that detedrmining the size of a peble in outer space!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    change happens

    change happens ... get over it.

    if science didn't change it's teachings according to evidence and reason we would be no better than all the pig-ignorant religious fundamentalist morons running around out there killing each other because their parents had the gall to indoctrinate them with the 'certain' knowledge that paragraph A of religious book B is absolutely true and that anyone who believes in paragraph C of religious book D (or even book B!) is true deserves to die..

    i know this particular issue is not very important but editing ANY knowledge for the sake of convenience is the thin end of the wedge that will tear us apart.

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