Friday, December 19, 2008

Follow-up on the tenth planet: The Tenth Planet Isn't

The "tenth planet" a/k/a 2003 UB313 - click to enlarge

A year and a half ago, I posted a poem, and an article on the tenth planet, a subject I found endlessly fascinating. One reason I found it so interesting was that the notion of a tenth planet was a plot arc near the end of the television series Dark Skies [1].

Back in mid-2006, many scientists thought the planet would become the tenth planet:

"We are 100 percent confident that this is the first object bigger than Pluto ever found in the outer solar system," Dr. Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology said. "Even if it reflected 100 percent of the light reaching it, it would still be as big as Pluto," says Brown. Pluto is 1400 miles (2300 km) wide. "I'd say it's probably [about] one and a half times the size of Pluto, but we're not sure." Rumor has it that the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has either made a decision (or will by August 2006) as to whether or not the tenth planet will really be classified as a planet or not.

As it turns out, it was not classified as a planet at all, but instead as a dwarf planet, As of mid-2008, five smaller objects are classified as dwarf planets. Ceres is in the asteroid belt, and four orbit the Sun beyond Neptune: Haumea, Makemake, Eris, and. . .Pluto!!!!!

click to enlarge

I am deflated and stunned. Not only is UB313 not the tenth planet, but Pluto had been declassified! It's not even a planet anymore. There are not nine planets, but eight. How could the Scientists do this...I mean this is truly a mindf***er! I went from thinking there were maybe ten down to eight. Having just found this out tonight, I wonder what's next: Abe Lincoln is a fictional character?

I guess we can take some comfort in the eight that remain:

[1] The crux of Dark Skies: 20th Century history as we know it is a lie. Aliens have been among us since the late 1940s, but a government cover-up has protected the public from such knowledge. As the series progresses, we follow John Loengard and Kim Sayers through the 1960s as they attempt to foil the plots of the alien Hive. The Hive is an alien race that planned to invade Earth through a manipulation of historical events and famous figures, including most notably the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In addition, the pair must stay one step ahead of a covert government agency that has mixed motives, Majestic 12.
The show featured a number of real-life 1960's personalities in the plot, such as The Beatles, Robert Kennedy, Jim Morrison, Carl Sagan, Ronald Reagan, and J Edgar Hoover.

Previous posts on the tenth planet:

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