Ahh Pluto, we barely knew ye…

So the news comes out today that the universe as we know is being altered. Well, the solar system anyways. The 9 planets we all memorized in grade 3 have become 8, thus giving today’s children an unfair advantage over the rest of us. Unless of course they now have to memorize the categories and the 4 “dwarf planets” (Pluto, Xena, Ares and…uh…shit…the other one). Poor Clyde Tombaugh must be rolling over in his grave, either from laughter that this would raise such a shitstorm or from disgust that it did. (If you didn’t know he was the guy who discovered Pluto in like 1930, thereby altering childrens textbooks til the end of the milennium).

At the end of the day it makes sense. This is not a new argument; Pluto’s orbit actually goes from within Neptune’s to far outside of it, and it’s hardly big enough to be called a planet. Xena is actually bigger than Pluto. For years scientists have debated whether or not Pluto deserves the “planet” status, and my personal opinion is that the only thing that kept this change from coming sooner was the worry about what the general population would think. Well here’s the thing you need to know, Astronomers of the world: other than a bit of nostalgia, no one really gives a rats ass. We all know you’re smarter than us and we trust you to make the decisions on celestial objects that don’t affect us in the least.

When I was a kid I memorized the planets based on their personalities. Mercury was redhot, Venus was green, earth was us, Mars was red, Jupiter was gigantic and had that big zit, Saturn had the funky rings, Uranus was purple and spun the wrong way and Neptune was huge and green. And then there was Pluto. Pluto had no personality. Pluto was the little wall flower who tried to avoid attention from his bigger siblings. Not that it mattered, cuz his bigger siblings didn’t know he existed. Basically Pluto has always needed an image consultant to help him become memorable. Pluto was the expendable crew member on StarTrek, the bass player in Van Halen, the fifth beatle, the guy in Knight Rider that wasn’t a car, a baseball game on TV, HGTV (you know…that one you always just flip past when yer remote flipping). We just didn’t know who he was nor did we care really. Very ignorable.

Well, now our favorite little ignorable ball of ice can begin his new life as the “dwarf planets’ leader”. He’s the expendable crew member who started a spinoff; Michael Anthony solo project, Stu Sutcliffe’s biography, …uh…Baywatch. The fight on the pitcher’s mound, the hot decorator chick. He’ll never gain the glory of Captain Kirk or Eddie and Alex or KITT or a hockey game or Showcase on Friday night, but he will have his little niche market of fans.

At the end of it all, it’s just all so trivial, yet it’s a big deal because it changes one of our fundamental pieces of knowlege that as adults we’ve know our whole lives.


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