FORMERLY KNOWN AS PLUTO
It’s official. Pluto has resigned from the solar system.
Citing the recent vote by the International Astronomical Union to change its status from planet to dwarf planet, the former ninth rock from the sun has responded with a firm “Thanks, but no thanks.”
First, a committee of astronomers came up with a new definition that would have seen Pluto demoted from full planetary status to a subcategory called “plutons.” Then the full membership rejected that compromise and made it clear that Pluto wasn’t a real planet.
“Nice try,” said the fiery ice ball. “But it’s rather condescending, don’t you think? Any heavenly body with half a mind can take the hint. Anyway, I figure it’s always better to leave before getting the gravitational boot.”
Pluto paused for a minute. “They can sugar-coat it all they want. But when you cut through all the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, it’s a demotion. They’re going to take away all my planetary perks and put me in a different section with another dwarf planet. And then they’re telling me that there may be a few dozen more ice balls joining our group in the future.”
Pluto paused again. “I’ve got my pride. It’s not like I haven’t been pulling my weight. Check out any school science text. I’ve been there holding the solar system together for years.”
The much-maligned sphere was getting worked up. “This is just typical interstellar corporate crap. But I should’ve seen it coming. Last year was the 75th anniversary of my discovery and they threw me a little party and gave me a plaque. I guess they figured I’d get the hint and retire. But I’m not taking their golden handshake. I don’t need this solar system. I’m going to form my own. At 248 Earth-years per solar orbit, I’ve got plenty of planetary life left in me.”
Pluto sighed. “I guess it was time for me to break free in any event. I was getting tired of all the name-calling behind my back. ‘Ice ball,’ ‘planetoid,’ ‘dwarf planet’ – I’ve heard ’em all. People forget that planets have feelings, too.”
Pluto sadly shook its moon. “These are the things that happen in overgrown bureaucracies. You have too many members with too many responsibilities and overlapping jurisdictions. Everybody forgets why we got together as a solar system in the first place. Frankly, I’ll be happy to be done with all the infighting and backbiting.”
The former farthest planet continued: “If you want to point fingers at planetary wannabes that aren’t pulling their weight, you might want to start with that little hothead Mercury. And Earth is so full of itself that even its moon is now pushing for planetary status. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Earth was claiming that the sun revolved around it!”
In yesterday’s press release, Pluto announced that it no longer wants to be called Pluto. From now on, it said, “I will only answer to Super Planet, the Great Planet or the Planet Formerly Known as Pluto.” Tentative plans are for Super Planet, Charon and UB313 to form their own galactic organization known as the Outer System.
“We can’t play by their rules, man,” said the Planet Formerly Known as Pluto. “Ours will be a lean, mean planetary team that will be fast, flexible and open to anybody and everybody that wants to join. With a flat organization and a generous profit-sharing scheme, I think we can take on any of those other rigid, sun-centric organizations with their top-down structure and regular, unchanging, concentric orbits. In fact, I understand we’ve already received inquiries from Ceres and Uranus. Two or three billion years from now, I doubt anyone will even know who or what the solar system was.”
Reprinted with permission from the Globe and Mail