Friday, September 01, 2006
By now it’s old news that Pluto has been declared to no longer be a planet, but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without comment. If you didn’t know, the discovery of a number of “celestial bodies” of similar size to Pluto (such as the the dwarf planets Ceres and Xena) has prompted astronomers to redefine what a planet is, and Pluto, which is smaller than our moon, doesn’t meet the new criteria because of its size.
It’s kind of fitting that Pluto was partly undone by Ceres. Ceres (Gk. Demeter) was the Roman goddess of grain (cf. cereal), whose daughter, Proserpina (Gk. Persephone), Pluto kidnapped to be his wife, and queen of the underworld. Ceres and Pluto eventually came to a joint custody arrangement, with the earth plunged into mourning each winter, when Proserpina went to be with her husband (watch the story). It now seems that Ceres has finally had her revenge in contributing to the relegation of Pluto.
[update: save Pluto]
[picture shows an artist's impression of Pluto and its moon, Charon]