[eDebate] And now for an interesting news story: Xena Kills Pluto
Fri Aug 25 07:06:54 CDT 2006
Agence France Presse, Prague, August 24, 2006 Thursday 2:05 PM GMT "Pluto loses status as solar system's ninth planet"
Pluto on Thursday lost its seven-decade status as the ninth and outermost planet of the solar system, the world's top astrononomical body decided.
The decision was made at an assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
"The eight planets are Mercury, Earth, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune," said the IAU resolution, passed in a raised-hands vote after what, by the discreet standards of the astronomical community, was a stormy debate.
Pluto's status had been contested for many years by astronomers who said that its tiny size and highly eccentric orbit precluded it from joining the other acknowledged planets.
The anti-Pluto movement gained ground after the discovery of a distant object beyond Pluto's orbit called 2003 UB313, also known unofficially as Xena. Its discoverer said UB313 was as big as Pluto and thus could lay claim to being a planet.
Pluto was discovered on February 18, 1930, by an American astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh, then aged 24.
Named after the god of the underworld in classical mythology, it orbits the Sun at an average distance of 5,906,380,000 kilometers (3,670,050,000 miles), taking 247.9 Earth years to complete a single circuit.
An unmanned US spacecraft, New Horizons, is due to fly by Pluto and the Kuiper Belt in 2015.
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