Australia wants to increase numbers of Dwarf Planets by 50

It has been almost 4 years now since Pluto was officially de-listed as a planet and put into a group called dwarf planets. This is a move which has caused a fair bit of controversy as there are a lot of supporters who believe Pluto should still be referred to as a planet.

What this means is that Pluto became one of a group of 5 dwarf planets in our solar system……. well that was until now.

Apparently news has just broken that Australian scientists in Canberra have now re-classified what a dwarf planet is. Before now, a dwarf planet was an icy object with a radius of more than 400 km.

Australian scientists now say that a dwarf planet should be any icy object greater than 200 km and this is going to add roughly 50 new objects to the dwarf planet group.

This is a huge issue and one that was bound to happen. As we better develop our ability to detect objects futher out in space, we then have to rethink our views of the solar system. For example, everyone was happy for Pluto to be known as a planet…… until a much larger object than Pluto was found further away from the Sun than Pluto was. This either meant the new object should be called a planet, or the smaller Pluto had to be demoted which is what happened.

Personally I believe that Pluto should have remained a planet.

Would you believe that Mercury could also have been classified as a dwarf planet. Mercury is smaller than Mars but it is also smaller than Jupiter’s moon of Ganymede  and Saturn’s moon Titan. With this in mind, shouldn’t Mercury be downgraded to a dwarf planet…. or Titan and Ganymede be promoted to planets.

It is all very complex which is why there are a lot of astronomers unhappy that Pluto has been classified as a dwarf planet. You can imagine what they will say when they hear the  Australian scientists have reclassified dwarf planets to now include smaller icy objects.

As far as Sydney Stargazers is concerned, we will still refer to Pluto as a planet …. though this is no longer politically correct in the world of astronomy. I believe that creating a new category called dwarf planets was not the way to go and this reclassification by Australian scientists is going to make the situation a lot more controversial.

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~ by sydneystargazers on April 8, 2010.

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