Science Friday Politics Friday, Sep 15 2006 

eris.gifFollowing hot on the heels of the recent (and to some, heretical) demotion of Pluto to dwarf planet status, and the promotion of Ceres from asteroid to dwarf planet, the International Astronomical Union (via the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams!) has finally seen fit to rename the dwarf planet UB313, more commonly known as Xena:

Following near-unanimous acceptance by the Committee on Small-Body Nomenclature and the Working Group on Planetary-System Nomenclature (in consultation with the discovery team), the IAU Executive Committee has now approved the names Eris for (136199) and Dysnomia for its satellite (136199) Eris I [formerly S/2005 (2003 UB313) . . .

But hold on to your horses! A wing-nut fighting keyboarder has uncovered a liberal plot in choice of the names Eris and Dysnomia.

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Malpractice Sunday, Sep 3 2006 

rob_hand.jpgAs a whole (except when privately kvetching between themselves behind another’s back), astrologers are quite allergic to criticism; whether providing it thoughtfully or accepting it. It is just not done, constructively or otherwise.

My personal theory is that since the word “astrology” is synonymous with pariah, most astrologers find themselves operating as a kind of functional outlaw, living somewhere on a continuum between a healthy capacity to question authority and a pathological disdain for accountability of any kind.

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Plutomomentum! Friday, Sep 1 2006 

hades_persephone.jpgAlthough not widely reported, Pluto did make a (sort of) concession speech:

Tomorrow morning, our campaign will file the necessary petition with the International Astronomical Union so that we can continue this campaign for a new astronomy of unity and purpose. I will always do what is right for my orbit and Solar system regardless of what the political consequences may be.

Tomorrow is a brand new day. Tomorrow we launch a new campaign — Team Pluto — Asteroids, non-conforming celestial objects and planets.

So this should come as no surprise:

Only a week after Pluto was stripped of its status as a full-fledged planet of the Solar System, rebel astronomers have launched a campaign to have it restored in pomp and glory.

A petition already signed by more than 300 professional researchers is attacking the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decision to expel Pluto from the Solar System’s A-list and doom it to the status of “dwarf planet”.

“We as planetary scientists and astronomers do not agree with the IAU’s definition of a planet, nor will we use it. A better definition is needed,” says the protest, placed on the Web . . . .

After all, as Clyde Tombaugh pointed out, “It’s there. Whatever it is. It is there.”