Did a taxonomy demote Pluto? If so, can it promote the little guy back to planet status? This interesting and humorous topic came to us from ZME Science in their article, “Should Pluto be promoted to a planet again?

Back in 2006, Pluto was relegated from being the ninth planet in the solar system after the International Astronomical Union (IAU) demoted it to a dwarf planet. Many astronomy fans were disappointed by the new classification.

Categories and definitions make up taxonomies. In the 1950s, developments in planet formation theory found it no longer useful to maintain taxonomic identification between asteroids and planets, There was a flood of publications on the geophysical nature of asteroids showing them to be geophysically different than the large planets. This is when the terminology in publications calling them planets changed.

Pluto’s classification as a dwarf planet is seen by many as arbitrary rather than the product of a scientific process. More than 14 years after Pluto’s demotion, the debate is not over.

Melody K. Smith

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