Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space It's funny.  Laugh. United States

Illinois Declares Pluto a Planet 512

Posted by timothy
from the after-ruling-out-pebble-and-mailing-tube dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "The legislators in Illinois, always on the lookout for more places to find voters, have passed a resolution declaring Pluto is a planet. I'm not sure what else can be said here, except that — besides overstepping their jurisdiction just a wee bit — they make a couple of scientific howlers in the resolution itself."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Illinois Declares Pluto a Planet

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Too right! (Score:3, Informative)

    by RedK (112790) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:06AM (#27090151)

    Yeah. I vote that Illinois also changes the definition of a mile and shortens it so that their residents can get more miles to the gallon!

    Oh, I know, they could call it a kilometer. It could be that a mile is 1.6 kilometers.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:07AM (#27090163)

    Well it depends on how you define SUN
    Our Sun is a star called Sol We call it the Sun because it is what we are in orbit around. If we were in orbit around an other star we would call that Star the Sun.

    The more formal defination of a Planet is the following.

    1. It Orbits around a Sun.
    2. Its shape is Spherical
    3. It is large enough to have or can attract and clear up other objects in its orbit.

    #3 is the problem with Pluto with its orbit crossing Neptune once the time gets right and Neptune gets to close it will just Suck up Pluto and not the other way around. So even it Pluto was the size of the earth if it was where Pluto is now it wouldn't be considered a planet.

  • In other news... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:09AM (#27090181)

    In other news, a giant robotic Neil deGrasse Tyson was seen bursting through the walls of the Illinois Capitol Building, saying, "Pluto is a Plutoid. You have 30 seconds to comply."

  • by Daimanta (1140543) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:19AM (#27090255) Journal

    "The IAU definition of a planet is more extensive than that."

    A celestial body that is (a) in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

  • by kasperd (592156) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:22AM (#27090273) Homepage Journal

    New joke meme?

    Pretty much the same joke was on xkcd [xkcd.com] not so long ago.

  • by FTWinston (1332785) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:34AM (#27090367) Homepage

    There are now 8 planets in the UNIVERSE because they defined a planet as a body orbiting the sun.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_definition_of_planet [wikipedia.org] This definition states that a body in our solar system is a planet if ... yadda yadda yadda.
    The definition doesn't say that things outwith our solar system are not planets, it simply doesn't say anything about them, either way.

    And while there seems to be *majority* scientific consensus on the status of pluto, most objections seem to be based on the fact that its people's "favourite" planet because its named after a disney character...

  • by FTWinston (1332785) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:45AM (#27090505) Homepage
    Nice selective quoting there. You missed a bit: "states that in the Solar System a planet is" .. so this definition doesn't apply outside the solar system, it doesn't say that things outwith the solar system cannot be planets.
  • How did that happen? (Score:2, Informative)

    by gumbright (574609) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:06AM (#27090755)
    I'm sorry, I don't know how this got past me, as a resident of Illinois. I've been really busy lately.

    On behalf of Illinois I most humbly and sincerely apologize for the frightening depth of stupidity displayed by our state legislature. I suspect it has something to do with the water in Springfield or somesuch.

  • Re:Too right! (Score:4, Informative)

    by autocracy (192714) <slashdot2007NO@SPAMstoryinmemo.com> on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:23AM (#27090923) Homepage
    No... you missed my point. Eight planets in the solar system, sure. The Universe is much larger, and other planets have been identified. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet#Extrasolar_planets [wikipedia.org] is a start.
  • by MadKeithV (102058) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:27AM (#27090973)
    They already tried that once [americanheritage.com]
  • by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:30AM (#27091027)

    Because Illinois is a northerly state... does Pluto ever actually pass "overhead"? Ever?

    Yes.

    Pluto's orbital inclination to the sun is about 11 degrees at maximum. The latitude of Illinois is much higher than that, at about 36 degrees. So Pluto may never pass through their air space, even if the borders of Illinois are extended upwards to infinity.

    You are thinking about the inclination relative to the sun's equator - however, Pluto's orbital inclination to the Earth's plane is more than that: A bit over 17 degrees.
    Earth's own axis is tilted 23.5 degrees, and as there's no obvious integer resonance between their orbital periods, Pluto will at some time be visible overhead at as
    high as +/- ~40.5 degrees (17+23.5) - which is surprisingly close to Chicago's latitude of ~41 degrees. So either they got lucky, or someone actually thought about that.

    However, Pluto right now is at 17.5 degrees south, so it will never be in zenith north of 6 degrees north (23.5-17.5) or - very roughly - Panama. And due to Pluto's loooooong orbital period of
    about 250 Earth years, this will not change significantly for a very long time.

    On an unrelated note: WhyTF is slashdot eating my degree signs - and not allowing the ampersand HTML entity?

  • by will_die (586523) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:32AM (#27091041) Homepage
    The official name of our sun is Sun. Sol is commonly used in science fiction but is just latin for sun and is not the official name.
    The is the same as our moon the official name is Moon, it is commonly referred to in sci-fi as Luna.
    So if you were in orbit around a planet that orbits a different star you could refer to it as the local star or local sun or by its official name, such as the 2nd nearest star to us being Proxima Centauri (of the Alpha Centauri solar system).
  • by Slumdog (1460213) on Friday March 06, 2009 @12:07PM (#27092205)
    Indiana once passed a law saying that PI should be exactly 3.2:
    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jlawler/aux/pi.html [umich.edu]
  • Re:Too right! (Score:4, Informative)

    by rumith (983060) on Friday March 06, 2009 @12:32PM (#27092491)
    The IAU definition of a planet [iau.org] says: The IAU therefore resolves that planets and other bodies, except satellites, in our Solar System be defined into three distinct categories in the following way: (1) A planet 1 is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit. (2) A "dwarf planet" is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape 2 , (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite. (3) All other objects 3 ,except satellites, orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as "Small Solar System Bodies".

    As you can see, the word 'planet' is only defined for the Solar system. There are no planets outside of it - those are exoplanets! And we do not currently possess enough data to make conclusions if their generation process and other characteristics has anything to do with our planets'

  • by Axtapuzar (1493671) on Friday March 06, 2009 @12:49PM (#27092731)
    Clyde Tombaugh was born in Streator, Illinois in 1906. Kudos for Illinois for speaking up and honoring their own Clyde would be furious to know that after he was dead his planet was declared a non-planet. I met Clyde and even when was alive he was vehemently defending Pluto as a planet. Some wussy astronomers waited until he was dead to change the classification - nice going guys.
  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday March 06, 2009 @12:57PM (#27092859) Homepage Journal

    Corrupt idiots, especially in Illinois. The last Illinois Governor we elected was just impeached and removed from office, the one before that is in prison for selling commercial drivers licenses to people who not only couldn't drive, but couldn't read either. People died horribly, including a family that burned to death.

    Since I was old enough to vote in 1970, every time an incumbant was beat by the other party's candidate, he went to prison.

    Our junior Senator is being looked into for perjury.

    Our state has many, many budget problems as well as other pressing issues, but they're wasting time on crap like deciding whether Pluto is a planet!

    I don't know who my Congressman is now, as he was just appointed Transportation Secretary. He did get my respect, as once I emailed him with a question about Illinois law, and he answered quickly and helpfully.

    Did I mention that they were arrogent and hubristic? AFAIK the only two honest politicians in the state are Durbin and Obama.

  • Re:Too right! (Score:2, Informative)

    by SwabTheDeck (1030520) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:10PM (#27093043)

    a gigabtye might be, I don't know what that is.

    a gigabtye just means the stuff toward the end doesn't matter.

  • Re:This just in (Score:5, Informative)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:17PM (#27093137) Journal

    Actually, that isn't as scary as you think. The biblical reference [purplemath.com] your making can logically be concluded to 3.14 and not 3 exactly.

  • by Bob Hearn (61879) on Friday March 06, 2009 @01:44PM (#27093481) Homepage

    You are thinking about the inclination relative to the sun's equator - however, Pluto's orbital inclination to the Earth's plane is more than that: A bit over 17 degrees.

    Earth's own axis is tilted 23.5 degrees, and as there's no obvious integer resonance between their orbital periods, Pluto will at some time be visible overhead at as

    high as +/- ~40.5 degrees (17+23.5) - which is surprisingly close to Chicago's latitude of ~41 degrees. So either they got lucky, or someone actually thought about that.

    No, not quite. You're assuming that the ascending node of Pluto lines up perfectly with the current axis of the Earth, so that when Pluto is 17 degrees above the ecliptic, it's also at its most northerly. But that isn't actually the case.

    Pluto's highest declination (angle above the plane of the Earth's equator) is actually only about 24 degrees. So, in fact Pluto does *not* ever pass directly overhead in Illinois.

    Unless you want to wait for the Earth's axis to precess to the right alignment. That cycle takes about 17,000 years.

  • Re:In other news... (Score:2, Informative)

    by DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:29PM (#27094235) Homepage

    Note to moderators: That "Informative" mod. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • by Enigma2175 (179646) on Friday March 06, 2009 @04:20PM (#27096391) Homepage Journal

    In further news, the State of Illinois passes a law regulating the value of pi to exactly 3.000.

    You realize that happened, right? Only it isn't 3.0, it's 3.2 [purdue.edu]

  • Re:Pi = 3 (Score:3, Informative)

    by MLease (652529) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:58PM (#27101191)

    I'm not making this up.

    Yes, you are [straightdope.com].

    -Mike

Scientists will study your brain to learn more about your distant cousin, Man.

Working...