Pluto As A Dwarf Planet Essay

766 Words Apr 14th, 2016 4 Pages
Ever since 2006, when Pluto was "demoted" to be a dwarf planet, people all over the world have complained about the change. The complaints are based partly on nostalgia; as children, they learned that Pluto was a planet, and they do not like change. However, in this essay, I argue that classifying Pluto as a dwarf planet is justified as the classification is useful; however, its status as a dwarf planet should not indicate that it is not as interesting as the planets. I will discuss, first, the historical context in which Pluto came to be demoted, the respective definitions of planets and dwarf planets, and finally, the usefulness of the classifications that result from these definitions.

The whole debate as to whether Pluto should be considered a planet started when an astronomer from Caltech, Mike Brown, discovered the "tenth planet," Eris. Eris was slightly bigger than Pluto, and was found in the Kuiper Belt, a collection of objects that orbited the Sun beyond Pluto. At first there was excitement, but then more and more bodies were found that also seemed to be as planet-y as both Eris and Pluto. Astronomers were then faced with a choice: do they include thousands of other space objects as planets of our solar system? Did they create an arbitrary, non-scientific definition, that allowed us to count Pluto as a planet, but kept the number reasonable? Or do they create a systematic definition, and change the status of Pluto? The latter option was chosen, prompting people…

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