Monday, August 14, 2006

Not Another International Crisis?

Full marks to James Graham for pointing out the importance of the International Astronomical Union's 12-day meeting that starts today in Prague.

As the BBC explains:
Astronomers are gathering in the Czech capital, Prague, hoping to define exactly what counts as a planet. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) hopes to settle the question of Pluto, which was first spotted in 1930. Experts are divided over whether Pluto - further away and considerably smaller than the eight other planets in our Solar System - deserves the title.

Here is a picture of Pluto and it's largest satellite, Charon, in their full glory, courtesy of Novacelestia:

By the way , if you want to know the names of the planets in various languages, look here. The Mandarin for "Pluto" is "Mingwangxing", which means "Star of the King of Hell". Nearly everyone else uses "Pluto" or something similar. I'm sure that Peter Black doesn't need me to tell him that the Welsh for "Pluto" is "Pliwto" . The Hebrew word is "Pluto" and the Arabic word is "Plutoon."

Now that's a worry. What happens if the IAU decides to leave things unchanged, but Hezbollah refuses to recognise Pluto's existence as a planet?

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