On other celestial bodies

The team that discovered ‘Xena’, as they are still insisting on calling the so-called “10th planet” *ahem*, have announced that it has an orbiting companion, called Gabrielle, of course. According to Professor Brown – “Having a moon is just inherently cool – and it is something that most self-respecting planets have, so it is good to see that this one does, too.” Ignoring the implied slight to Mercury.. and Venus.. I’ll just point out that Prof Brown’s other recent discovery, the less glamorously named 2003 EL61 also has a moon.. and is also not a planet.

  • maca

    It’s also worth pointing out Pete, that 2003 EL61 is even smaller than Pluto. The fact that it has a moon makes no difference, Prof.Browne’s statement is kinda meaningless.

  • peteb

    maca

    To be fair to him, Prof Brown does point out the comparative sizes of the bodies concerned on his site.[scroll down]

    But the focus on Pluto is a red herring. Personally I’d prefer it if Pluto, along with Charon, were redesignated as minor planets – or as the Trans-Neptunian Objects discussed in the earlier post. As well as clearing the boards of confusion.. the problem of newly discovered objects being claimed as planets wouldn’t occur – the current claim rests on the comparative sizes of Xena and Pluto.

    Unfortunately, The Status of Pluto seems unlikely to change anytime soon.