Saturday, August 26, 2006

The guy who killed Pluto

The critical blow for Pluto came with the discovery three years ago of an object currently designated 2003 UB313. Discovered by Mike Brown and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology, 2003 UB313 has been lauded by some as the "10th Planet".
Measurements by the Hubble Space Telescope show it to have a diameter of 3,000km (1,864 miles), a few hundred km more than Pluto. 2003 UB313 will now join Pluto in the dwarf planet category.
Robin Catchpole, of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK, said: "My own personal opinion was to leave things as they were. I met Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto, and thought, it's nice to shake hands with someone who discovered a planet.
Most astronomers were happy to see Pluto cast from the official roster of planets. Professor Iwan Williams, the IAU's president of planetary systems science, commented: "Pluto has lots and lots of friends; we're not so keen to have Pluto and all his friends in the club because it gets crowded.

"By the end of the decade, we would have had 100 planets, and I think people would have said 'my goodness, what a mess they made back in 2006'."

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