[meteorite-list] Pluto is Now Just a Number: 134340

From: Sterling K. Webb <sterling_k_webb_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue Sep 12 23:23:50 2006
Message-ID: <006501c6d6e4$0400b2c0$d525e146_at_ATARIENGINE>


    Nice headline: Pluto is now just a number.

    I'd imagine The Planet Pluto is feeling a little
blue about now. (Anybody checked its UVB
magnitude lately?) Having the blues usually calls
for a song. Here it is. (Adapted from "Secret
Agent Man," by P.F. Sloan and S. Barri, 1966.)


    There's a world that leads a life of danger;
    To the inner system it stays a stranger.
    With every move they make,
    Another chance you take;
    Odds are you won't be a planet any longer.

    Planet Pluto Man, Xena, Ceres, too:
    They've given you a number
    And taken away your name.

    Beware of IAU'ers that you find;
    Bad science hides an evil mind.
    Ah, be careful what you do
    Or they'll get rid of you;
    Odds are you won't be a planet any longer.

    Planet Pluto Man, Xena, Ceres, too:
    They've given you a number
    And taken away your name.

    Meanwhile, what is this "Minor Planet Center"?
There is no such thing as a "minor planet." That
old term was submerged and terminated by IAU
Resolution 5A. I quote item (3) All other objects
[footnote 3] orbiting the Sun shall be referred to
collectively as "Small Solar System Bodies" and
[footnote 3] These currently include most of the
Solar System asteroids, most Trans-Neptunian
Objects (TNOs), comets, and other small bodies.
(Notice the "most"?)

    Since there's no such thing as a "minor planet,"
doesn't Brian have to change the name of his fine
recording organization first, to "The Small Solar
System Body Center"? Of course, the old name
has a long and honorable history. On the other
hand, that argument didn't cut much ice for the
Planet Pluto.

    Additionally, the IAU passed Resolution 6A,
which states "The IAU further resolves: PLUTO
IS A DWARF PLANET by the above definition
and is recognized as the prototype of a new category
of trans-Neptunian objects." Not AS an TNO, but
as a prototype for more trans-Neptunian dwarf planets.
TNO's are SSSB's, unless they're Dwarf Planets,
in which case they are NOT SSSB's.

    Obviously, Pluto is classified as a "dwarf
planet," NOT a small solar system body (nor
minor planet, of which there are none). Marsden's
saying that Pluto can be included in "other"
catalogs is disingenuous. Pluto (by Resolution
6A) has already been designated as a Dwarf
Planet and, as such, has been excluded from
the Small Solar System Body category (and
catalog), and listing Pluto as such is flatly
contradictory to and violates Resolution 5A.
To do so is just unprofessional conduct.

    Resolution 5A's [footnote 2] says "An IAU
process will be established to assign BORDERLINE
objects into either dwarf planet and other categories."
But the subsequent Resolution 6A (which followed
5A and further refines it) assigns Pluto to Dwarf
Planet status, specifically and by name (not number).

    Resolution 5A creates THREE SEPARATE
AND DISTINCT categories of solar system bodies:
SOLAR SYSTEM BODIES (hereinafter abbreviated
as SSSB). Despite the more than evident desire
of many parties to have only two categories: Eight
Planets and Space Junk, that is NOT what Resolution
5A does. What it does do is to define THREE
classifications on a totally EQUAL footing. The
previous drafts of the resolution ennumerated
two Dwarf Planets under the criteria of Resolution
5A: Pluto and Ceres (and, as a double planet,
Charon too, but Charon is out now).

    Originally, the term "dwarf planet" was
proposed as "merely" descriptive, or so said
the FAQ issued by the IAU at the time of the
first version of Resolution 5. However, the
resolution that actually passed (5A) makes
Dwarf Planet a technical classification and
a solar system body category completely
independent of and distinct from either
Planet and SSSB, a definition of a specific
class of solar system object.

    ==> Clearly, IAU Resolution 5A raises
"Dwarf Planet" to an equal and equivalent
TAXONOMIC status as the term "planet."
(Look at the outline structure of Resolution
5A, given below.) One presume the IAU is
composed of "scientists" and are (or should
be) aware of Taxonomy (tassein = to classify
and nomos = law, science,), as applied in the
widest sense, refers to either a classification
of things, or the principles underlying that
classification. Almost anything, animate objects,
inanimate objects, may be classified according
to some taxonomic scheme, which is what the
IAU did in Resolution 5A, which created three
classes of solar system bodies.

    [Footnote 2] only refers to "borderline"
objects (Vesta and "Santa," or 2003EL61).
Presumably, as soon as Sedna, Orcus,
Quaoar, "Zenn," and of course "Xena,"
and the company of all spherical TNO's
have their sphericity reasonably shown,
they are Dwarf Planets also. And [Footnote
3], about the SSSB's, refers to them as
"MOST of the Solar System asteroids,
MOST Trans-Neptunian Objects," thus
explicitly recognizing that at least one
"asteroid" (Ceres) and at least one TNO
(beside Pluto, already defined as a Dwarf
Planet) is NOT an SSSB, recognizing that
Dwarf Planet and SSSB are mutually exclusive
categories. Interestingly, the resolution uses
an utterly illigitimate term, "asteroid," which
the IAU long ago replaced with "minor
planet," which has now been replaced by
SSSB. How unprofessional can you get?

    The IAU says "Xena's" discoverers will
have exclusive right to propose a name
during a ten-year window that begins with
its permanent number (136199), subject to
the approval of the Committee on Small
Bodies Nomenclature of the IAU's Division

    Where is the authority or logic that assigns
SBN jurisdiction over the category Dwarf
Planet, a separate and equal category having
nothing at all to do with SSSB's?! Resolution
5A does not make Dwarf Planet a subcategory
of SSSB; it separates the categories completely.
Where is the Committee on Dwarf Planet
Nomenclature? And why has the IAU not created
one yet? Again, assigning SSSB numbers are flatly
contradictory to and violates Resolution 5A,
and is just more sloppy unprofessional conduct.

    There have been reports of astronomers,
chiefly US planetary scientists, who have talked
of organizing wide discussions of planetary
definition. Fine. However, years will pass before
another IAU General Assembly. What needs to
be done is to insist that the IAU operate on the
basis of the resolution that they did pass. Whatever
IAU committees exist to deal with planetary
questions, definitions, nomenclature, cataloging,
and jurisdiction, the IAU must now establish
committees exist to deal with dwarf planetary
questions, dwarf planetary definitions, dwarf
planetary nomenclature, dwarf planetary cataloging,
dwarf planetary jurisdiction, committees with
equal staffing, authority, funding, staff time.
And so on down the line through all aspects
of the IAU's solar system "administration."

    As for the propects of an IAU vote of the
entire profession, 10's of 1000's of professional
astronomers, by mail or internet, forget it. The
new president of the IAU says of the voting
process: "Our Statutes state that Resolutions
can only be passed by a majority of those IAU
members present and voting. Resolution 5A was
passed with a wide majority. There is therefore,
from our perspective, little reason to question the
authority of the IAU."

    In other words, these "scientific" matters will
be decided, as they were this August, by a zealot
majority among 400-odd European and Latin
astronomers and computer dynamicists prepared
to shout and intimidate from the floor (watch the
video). It would be much better to hound the IAU
to live up the resolution as worded and passed.
Don't question the authority of the IAU, force
them to exercise it to implement the (unintended?)
consequences of Resolution 5A, to the letter.

    This would be the proper approach for those who
favored the original 12-planet definition. Embrace the
definition of Dwarf Planet, as an equal category. Force
the IAU to treat it as they've defined it. If the original
Resolution 5 would have produced 22 or 24 planets,
as Brian Marsden suggested, then there are now 14
or 16 Dwarf Planets, more than there are conventional
planets. Organize the Dwarf Planet Group. Push.

    The beauty of this truly idiotic term, Dwarf Planet,
is in its linguistic attributes. I have a soft hearted cousin
who has too many dogs: six. Suppose I tried to explain
to him that he has two completely different and distinct
species of animals as pets: Dogs and Small Dogs. What
the heck are you talking about, he asks? Sure, Jack and
Omar are kinda little, but they're still dogs, fer krissake!
In the long run, millions of people will operate logically,
in the same way, in the matter of the "distinction"
between planets and dwarf planets...

Sterling K. Webb
For the space lawyers among us,
here's the text of the IAU resolutions:

Resolution 5A

The IAU therefore resolves that planets and
other bodies in our Solar System be defined
into three distinct categories in the following way:

(1) A planet[1] is a celestial body that

(a) is in orbit around the Sun,

(b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome
rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic
equilibrium (nearly round) shape,

(c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

(2) A dwarf planet is a celestial body that

(a) is in orbit around the Sun,

(b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome
rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic
equilibrium (nearly round) shape[2],

(c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit,

(d) is not a satellite.

(3) All other objects[3] orbiting the Sun shall be referred to
collectively as "Small Solar System Bodies".

[1] The eight planets are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars,
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
[2] An IAU process will be established to assign borderline
objects into either dwarf planet and other categories.
[3] These currently include most of the Solar System asteroids,
most Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), comets, and other
small bodies.

Resolution 6A
The IAU further resolves:
Pluto is a dwarf planet by the above definition and is
recognized as the prototype of a new category of
trans-Neptunian objects.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ron Baalke" baalke_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov
To: "Meteorite Mailing List" meteorite-list_at_meteoritecentral.com
Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 11:46 AM
Subject: [meteorite-list] Pluto is Now Just a Number: 134340

> http://space.com/scienceastronomy/060911_pluto_asteroidnumber.html
> Pluto is Now Just a Number: 134340
> By Ker Than
> space.com
> 11 September 2006
> Pluto has been given a new name to reflect its new status as a dwarf
> planet.
> On Sept. 7, the former 9th planet was assigned the asteroid number
> 134340 by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), the official organization
> responsible for collecting data about asteroids and comets in our solar
> system.
> The move reinforces the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) recent
> decision to strip Pluto of its planethood and places it in the same
> category
> as other small solar-system bodies with accurately known orbits.
> Pluto's companion satellites, Charon, Nix and Hydra are considered part of
> the same system and will not be assigned separate asteroid numbers, said
> MPC director emeritus Brian Marsden. Instead, they will be called 134340
> I,
> II and III, respectively.
> There are currently 136,563 asteroid objects recognized by the MPC;
> 2,224 new objects were added last week, of which Pluto was the first.
> Other notable objects to receive asteroid numbers included 2003 UB313,
> also known as "Xena," and the recently discovered Kuiper Belt objects
> 2003 EL61 and 2005 FY9. Their asteroid numbers are 136199, 136108 and
> 136472, respectively.
> The MPC also issued a separate announcement stating that the assignment
> of permanent asteroid numbers to Pluto and other large objects located
> beyond the orbit of Neptune "does not preclude their having dual
> designations in possible separate catalogues of such bodies."
> Marsden explained that the cryptic wording refers to the future
> possibility of creating a separate astronomical catalogue specific to
> dwarf planets. There might even be more than one catalogue created, he
> said.
> The recent IAU decision implies "that there would be two catalogues of
> dwarf planets - one for just the trans-Neptunian Pluto type and the other
> for objects like Ceres, which has also been deemed a dwarf planet,"
> Marsden told SPACE.com. "That's why that statement was put there, to
> reassure people who think there would be other catalogues that this
> numbering of Pluto doesn't preclude that."
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Received on Tue 12 Sep 2006 11:23:42 PM PDT

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