I am sure most of you are aware of the latest in the planetary inclusion, this makes the count of the total number of “known” planets in the solar system to 12,which means we have caused the astrologers of our age who have explicitly depended on the 9 planets theory to “predict” the future’s of the hopefuls :). To get onto a serious note the new set of planets include Charon, which was previously considered to be a moon of Pluto, Ceres the largest Kuiper belt object and of course the earliest “new” planet UB 2003 or better known as Xena as tribute to the TV series featuring the amazon
To be honest I do not know whether this set of new inclusions is going to help the planetary society or amateur astronomers any more than it had when they did not have the present guidelines, but it does make one thing very clear we are in for a couple more of “discoveries” of planets and this gives the planetary society some more front page coverage and i guess that may do more harm than good to the astronomy community with this just acting as an excuse for the society to go lax on their discovering spree. It may also give the public an impression that space has been more or less mapped and the planetary society is just trying to keep its neck above water.
On the flip side there is also a possibility that these new discoveries could give a new life to the observation of asteroids and NEO’s as this current definition means that there will be a more defined search for objects that may have previously construed as asteroids and I am sure that this would save good time and energy in determining whether they are asteroids or not, well i guess we could simply settle by calling them near earth planets 🙂
There is also this theory that the planets which have been newly discovered can be called Plutons as all of them resemble the size, shape and orbital paths of pluto(well I am not sure of the orbital paths part though). This debate had started with the discovery of Pluto itself where the controversy started on what can be called a planet and what not, as per the current status any object which is revolving about a star and is drawn to the gravitational center of the star and by the virtue of which is rounded in shape and has a fixed orbital path round the star is called a planet, i dunno whether there should be a criterion of it not revolving around a planet in which case I guess Charon would automatically be ruled out. An interesting fact to be noted is that the Charon-Pluto combination which was earlier perceived to be a planet-moon pair is now thought to be a binary planet system akin to binary stars and the astronomers are planning to have them in the same sense as a special case.
I also just happened to see the latest news that pluto has been stripped of its planetary title and is been made a dwarf planet, this means that even the rest of the “Plutons” would possibly become dwarf planets, so much for a decade of discussion, but I guess we will have more intersting conclusions
This may also mean that there may be more planets which could previously be just KBO’s, but I guess in the long run we need to transcend the naming barriers and just focus on the kind of sky mapping we need to do after all a rose by any other name will still be a rose 🙂