APOF XXVII

The news of Pluto’s downgrade to “dwarf planet” or “plutino” was well-publicized, but I hadn’t realized the full extent of the decision.  Several “trans-Neptune objects” have been identified – including Eris, which triggered the debate – that qualify based on the criteria (a) massive enough to be spherical due to its own gravity and (b) cleared its region of planetesimals and is not a satellite.  As one astronomer put it after a more recent discovery of a “planet” beyond Pluto:  “They’re Kuiper Belt Objects.  Get over it.”

Based on this refined definition, there is actually a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt:  Ceres.  Neighborhood is getting crowded… I hear Fannie Mae has some bad loans out there.

Also: more “art” from Cassini and The Milky Way chewing up the scenery around some landmarks.

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