24 August, 2006

Pluto, king of the dwarfs

Did the IAU actually do anything useful at their General Assembly? I sincerely hope they didn’t waste the whole of their time in Prague arguing about Pluto – that would be a tragic waste with so much fine beer to be sampled.

Anyway, as Nature’s woman in the trenches reports, after a few days of wrangling and counterarguments to the original proposal, the whole thing came down to a few rounds of waving yellow cards in the air. Roundness is still a criterion, but to make it into the big league you also have to have cleared your orbit of other major bodies – if you haven’t then you’re merely a 'dwarf planet'. See the bottom of this press release for the full text of the resolutions. Phil has more at Bad Astronomy, and thinks it’s still a bit arbitrary. Josh is happy. My opinion remains unchanged.

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