In 2006, the planet known as Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf world. Over a decade later, this error is finally being corrected by astronomers. Welcome to a solar system that, once again, has nine planets.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the body that is responsible for naming and classifying objects in the cosmos, has just announced that Pluto has been reclassified as a major planet. The (former) dwarf planet will be rejoining the ranks of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Planet-X.
Eleven years ago, the IAU made a vote to demote Pluto. Their reasoning was that too many people would confuse the Disney character with the piece of rock in space. Immediately thereafter, the public exploded with outrage. There were a number of campaigns launched that were aimed at ensuring that Pluto was reinstated as a planet. These met with no success.
But after years of deliberation, the IAU have reclassified the icy world, upgrading Pluto back to its proper standing as a planet. “We simply underestimated the public’s attachment to Pluto. We realized our error shortly after the decision came down to demote it,” said Dr. Amy Joggy, professor at the Institute of Planetary Studies and head of the IAU’s Planetary Classification and Experimental Nomenclature Task Force. “We didn’t think anyone would really care if a little clump of ice and rock on the outskirts of the solar system was reclassified. Clearly, we dun messed up, and that makes me super sad face. Today, we take steps to correct this most grievous of errors.”
In addition to Pluto’s reclassification, Dr. Joggy has also proposed that the IAU create a new category of planet called a “hyper-planet.” According to Dr. Joggy, they are like regular planets but at least two times as awesome.