Words for Worlds: What We’re Calling Pluto Now

Tom Marcinko @ 12-06-2008

pluto-protestYou might think that a dwarf planet is, oh, a planet, and that would settle it. But the International Astronomical Union just decided that the new classification for Pluto-like objects such as Eris, Ceres — and, presumably, Sedna, Orcus, Varuna, and Quaoar — is “plutoid.” Fearless prediction: Nobody is going to like this word. If you were the first to set foot on any of these objects, wouldn’t you want credit for being first on a planet? Bad enough that I have to tell my son that Xena was only the unofficial name for Eris, and that Buffy probably won’t stand as an astronomical name, either.
[Children protest Pluto’s reclassification, c. 2006, Wikimedia Commons]

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