back to article Illinois restores Pluto's planetary status

The State of Illinois has decided it's unhappy with Pluto's 2006 expulsion from the league of planets and has decreed that as it "passes overhead through Illinois' night skies, that it be reestablished with full planetary status". In case you're wondering why Illinois wants to mix it up with the International Astronomical …


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  1. Jimmy Floyd

    Following that logic...

    Since that astronaut's spanner, once dropped from the ISS, is flying through the skies over Illinois, that must be a planet too?

    Mine's the one in orbit.

  2. /\/\j17

    @Jimmy Floyd

    While I can see the arguments for/against Pluto's planit status I find the idea of giving it to a apanner a bit of a wrench.

  3. Chris

    They're late

    New Mexico did it two years ago:

    It seems Dr. Tombaugh made the actual discovery while he was a professor at New Mexico State Univ.

    What's next, California, because he once vacationed there? Or what do the Plutonians have to say about it?

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Fire all the elected 'tards who spent more than 1 second on this asshattery.


    Better representatives are standing in line and are eager to get a free seat.

  5. Pete Silver badge

    proof of extra-terrestrial life!

    Illinois is famous for the corruption, bribery and general dodgy practices among it's politicians. So we can probably assume that the reason they took this (frankly ludicrous) decision was because someone, or thing, greased a few palms. Now, there can be no-one on earth who would think this sort of trivia worthy of anything more than a few seconds of attention - so the conclusion is that it must have been the Plutovians, or Plutonites, or Plutinos (or whatever they call themselves).

    Obviously it has taken this long, since the de-planetisation decision was made, for them to hear about it and mount an expedition to earth. Presumably we can expect more countries and pseudo-governmental institutions to come out in favour of re-planetisation, once the back-handers[1] spread. I just hope the politicians involved held out for real, hard currency and not the promise of prime real-estate on one of the (newly announced) planet's golf resorts.

    [1] not sure if you can give a back-hander while greasing a palm - maybe we should ask the Illinois officials.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better things to do

    Bad enough that politicians feel the need to once again determine how science is defined.

    Don't they have better things to do???

    Last time I checked, people were still losing jobs, homes, stock value, cars, dogs, cats...

    I haven't noticed crime dis-appearing also, but I'm a low-paid idiot, so what do I know.

    Maintaining a strong job market or getting bent out of shape over Pluto being too small to be defined as a planet... which one is easier...

    I get irritated when I see what my country is becoming... a bunch of short-sighted, greedy idiots.

  7. M7S

    Not a dog then?

    Uncle Walt will be disappointed.

  8. Michael Sheils

    I decree

    That when the moon is over my head is then belongs to me as is actually a giant babybel.

  9. scotchbonnet
    Paris Hilton

    So With A Couple of Disgraced Governors... in jail, a swirling controversy over the Senator one of them appointed, dozens of other political scandals stretching back over decades, crumbling state finances and a whole host of very serious problems, the Illinois legislature finds the time, focus and energy to pass this little gem.

    Innat just ducky.

    Restores one's faith in mankind and the democratic process.


    Paris, cos in fifty years I'd lay odds her ass will be as large as a planet.

  10. Nicholas Ettel
    Thumb Down

    Astronomy? What's that?

    Fuck the international consensus of PhD-wielding, legitimate astronomers, astrophysicists, etc - we make our own science!

    I hate the state of Illinois. Were it not for some favourite family members of mine, I would enjoy if it fell off the face of the planet... we'd all be better off.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    I'm certain Mickey Mouse will be just as ecstatic to know this.

    Mine's the one with the doggy biscuits stuffed in both pockets.

  12. the spectacularly refined chap

    A true authority on this matter

    Well, we now have an eminently sensible decision rolled back by that noted authority on astronomy and space, the Illinois state senate. They're obviously far more authoritative on these issues than the IAU.

    All this resolution does is prove that Pluto does not deserve planetary status. National or local pride is no reason whatsoever to alter scientific definitions and classifications. In passing this resolution the state senate have merely confirmed what we all knew anyway: the cries of anguish from the US have no basis in reality but are simply national vanity at work.

    There really should be a "fuck democracy" icon for times like this.

  13. Anonymous Bastard


    How often is Pluto's orbit high enough to be above Illinois anyway? Since Illinois is in the northern hemisphere and most planets are on the same plane I don't think this will happen for a long time to come.

  14. Andy Barber


    ... the earth is flat. What's all this balderdash about planets orbiting a star?

  15. RW
    Paris Hilton

    American state legislatures

    Have a long history of passing ludicrous laws. One gets the sense that many of them are old boys' clubs and they are well aware that such laws are nonsense intended primarily to get a laugh out of the other members.

    In this case, the law is also a minor sop thrown to the future-shock crowd, who resist all change of any sort whatsoever. Yesterday the racists who decried a change in status for the uppity blacks, today the Plutoists who resist a simple reclassification. As though anyone cares!

    One can't help but wonder, don't they have anything better to do with their time?

    Paris, because whenever she's lying on her back, she's prone to saying "oooh, lookie, there goes Pluto overhead!"

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NY Planetarium showdown

    Neil deGrasse Tyson from the NY planetarium was interviewed by 'The Daily Show''s Jon Stewart about his decision to demote Pluto from their exhibit. It's well worth a watch:

  17. Stuart Gepp

    Surely a mistake

    I'm certain many thousands, nay millions of Americans have spotted Pluto whilst on vacation in Florida and California.

  18. Stevie


    If only witless so-called "scientists" would get off their fat arses and actually *do* some useful science instead of lazing around renaming stuff their betters discovered the hard way - by looking for stuff and doing the hard sums - we could actually go out and have a close-up look at Pluto and decide for ourselves whether it was a planet or not.

    As it is, because these over-tenured idle gits have not the faintest idea how to do useful stuff, all we have is a worthless argument over what to call stuff we can't actually see without a telescope the size of an industrial chimney and a computer that needs gallons of liquid helium to keep cool.

    The cry should go up from all civilized people! Scientists! Either start doing science or be held liable for the repayment *in full* of any and all grant monies obtained under the patently false pretense you would a) learn science and 2) do it occasionally!


  19. kain preacher

    Please remeber

    This is just in one state . The US is a large country and its not our fault that a few states teach the earth is flat.

  20. Eddy Ito

    Why not?

    Hey, it's Illinois and they're politicians. The question is how much did the required bribes cost and who paid up? I'm guessing it was Pluto's old friend Mickey since he is the only one who could stump that kind of cash.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Watch Out

    I think Yorkshire's about to declare itself the centre of the universe, and rightly so

  22. Nick L

    edication, that's what you need

    And they'll be working out its orbit using the state-mandated value of π = 3

  23. Christoph

    So tell me ...

    Which Mickey Mouse politician thought that one up?

  24. James Woods

    this is what our government is doing?

    We're on the heels of a depression not seen since the great depression and government is using it's time to talk about planets? These people are from another planet, especially Illinois.

    They must see some sort of contract possibility on the horizon with this move.

  25. Mark Simon
    Paris Hilton

    Legislating Science

    in 1897, there was an attempt in Indiana to pass legislation which would indirectly have set pi to a wrong value of 3.2. I has been indefinitely postponed (which suggests that it may yet happen).

    To put it another way, politics and truth just don’t mix.

    Politics and stupidity, on the other hand, ...

  26. Anonymous Coward

    This is what happens...

    ...when your government is a Plutocracy.

  27. Martin Budden Silver badge

    you can't have it both ways

    According to the current IAU rules Pluto is not a planet AND NEITHER IS NEPTUNE!

    The rules state that to qualify as a planet an object must have "cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit". Neptune has not done so, because Pluto's orbit crosses Neptune's orbit. Therefore, Neptune is not a planet.

    Why does no-one seem to have noticed this huge blunder by IAU?

  28. Kevin Reader

    But it is a planet

    Look I'm all for clarification in science but the whole "Pluto isn't a planet" thing just reeked really badly anyway. After all you've educated and informed EVERYONE since it was discovered that its a planet and then some bunch got antsi since its not a very good planet. So they decide to change its status.

    Well surely on that same basis Atoms which were indivisible units of matter should have been completely renamed when Neutrons etc were discovered. The those atom-2s should have been renamed when quarks were discovered (atom-3s), etc. If scientists wanted better names for their scientific discussion - well great (like leptons and hadrons, etc) but redefining planets was (and is) just stupid. My kids grew up (as I did) knowing nine planets, their children will know 8 (and a bit) or 8 (and several bits). Someone else will eventually argue that mercury is too small, or too close or jupiter too gassy! Its like deciding a model T isn't a car because you cannot buy it or the engine is to small or its got no seat belts.

    So for just this once I salute some american politicians. At least it will annoy the mad (space) scientists. I must write to them and point out that they don't always use telescopes as a lot of them don't have any glass or mirrors in them. They use radio dishes and horns.

    ... Mad shortsighted scientist ofcourse...

  29. Watashi


    How arrogant it is to completely ignore the scientific community's official classification of something simply because it makes you feel better about yourself...

    Hopefully, they'll reclassify organic 'liquids' as actually being 'solid'. Thus, I no longer have a 'drinking' problem, as you cannot drink a solid. Also, one mile could be redefined as what is currently three miles, meaning that I could drive down the motorway as fast as my car will go (having an 'Illinois' top spead of around 45 miles per hour).

    p.s. Didn't Brown get standing ovations over in the US when he gave a speech? Do they want us to think they're morons, or what?

  30. Laurel Kornfeld
    Thumb Up

    Pluto IS a planet; it's the IAU that screwed up

    The Illinois legislature has way more sense than the International Astronomical Union has shown in two-and-a-half years. It’s the IAU who have acted like idiots, with one tiny group forcing a nonsensical planet definition on everyone. The truth is there is NO scientific consensus that Pluto is not a planet. The criterion requiring that a planet “clear the neighborhood of its orbit” is not only controversial; it’s so vague as to be meaningless. Only four percent of the IAU even voted on this, and the vote was driven by internal politics. A small group, most of whom are not planetary scientists, wanted to arbitrarily limit the number of planets to only the largest bodies in the solar system. They held their vote on the last day of a two-week conference with no absentee voting allowed. Their decision was immediately opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers in a formal petition led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto.

    Stern and like-minded scientists favor a broader definition of planet that includes any non-self-luminous spheroidal body orbiting a star. The spherical part is key because when objects become large enough, they are shaped by gravity, which pulls them into a round shape, rather than by chemical bonds. This is true of planets and not of shapeless asteroids and comets. And yes, it does make Ceres, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake planets as well, for a total of 13 planets in our solar system.

    Even now, many astronomers and lay people are working to overturn the IAU demotion or are ignoring it altogether. Kudos to the Illinois Senate for standing up to this closed, out of touch organization whose leadership thinks they can just issue a decree and change reality.

  31. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Give 'em a break...

    ...It's no less scientific than the IAU's original decision. The real pity is that Illinois didn't go the whole hog and remove planetary status from Neptune. That would've should those limey bastards who's in charge.

  32. John Savard

    The Real Definition of a Planet

    When did Ceres stop being a planet? When it was discovered that there were at least dozens of other asteroids out there, several of which were larger than the smallest of the first four asteroids to be discovered.

    Similarly, matters came to a head over Pluto when Eris was discovered.

    So the definition of a planet basically is - an object that directly orbits the Sun, and which is bigger than any object which belongs to a class of objects with a large number of members, so that it can be considered one of the major, big, and significant objects in the Solar System.

    Since that has to do with subjectivity - and with the practical concern of not having lots of working astronomers waste time scanning the Kuiper Belt with large telescopes in order to be acclaimed as the next Herschel - they had to put a dynamical veneer on it with this orbit clearing business.

    If Illinois feels like it has to protect the laurels of a native son, that really isn't the same thing as declaring pi equal to 3 1/5 (and the square root of two equal to 1 3/7) or pretending that evolution didn't happen, because Pluto's status was never really about science.

  33. David

    Secondary disk accreation.

    A theory of planetary formation, such as the current theory of secondary disk accreation, will make certain predictions about how a planet should look and behave. Pluto does not look or behave like a planet formed by this process. Draw your own conclusions.

  34. Peter Mc Aulay


    Plutocrats, obviously.

  35. Matt Newton

    @Martin Budden

    Neptune and Pluto do not "cross orbits" :)

  36. Doug Lynn

    Must be a science book bonanza rewriting all the school books!

    Hi, glad to hear Pluto's been promoted again, I heard Mickey Mouse had something to do with it.

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