In the last update to my post yesterday noting the demotion of Pluto to dwarf planet status by the IAU, I mentioned this short BBC article and the comments of Dr Alan Stern, who leads NASA’a New Horizons mission to Pluto, saying that like-minded astronomers would try to get Pluto reinstated. He has more to say here, but there are more serious reservations on the vote from Dr Owen Gingerich who chaired the IAU’s planet definition committee, which spent two years producing an earlier, rejected, draft definition More on the controversy And via John O’Shea. The photoshoppers are on the case.. hehOwen Gingerich’s comments in the BBC article
“In our initial proposal we took the definition of a planet that the planetary geologists would like. The dynamicists felt terribly insulted that we had not consulted with them to get their views. Somehow, there were enough of them to raise a big hue and cry,” Professor Gingerich said.
“Their revolt raised enough of a fuss to destroy the scientific integrity and subtlety of the [earlier] resolution.”
He added: “There were 2,700 astronomers in Prague during that 10-day period. But only 10% of them voted this afternoon. Those who disagreed and were determined to block the other resolution showed up in larger numbers than those who felt ‘oh well, this is just one of those things the IAU is working on’.”
Professor Gingerich, who had to return home to the US and therefore could not vote himself, said he would like to see electronic ballots introduced in future.
And those like-minded astronomers?
Stern said like-minded astronomers had begun a petition to get Pluto reinstated. Car bumper stickers compelling motorists to “Honk if Pluto is still a planet” have gone on sale over the internet and e-mails circulating about the decision have been describing the IAU as the “Irrelevant Astronomical Union”.
Meanwhile seven well-known dwarfs have offered Pluto a new position..