Naked Science Forum

Non Life Sciences => Physics, Astronomy & Cosmology => Topic started by: Eric A. Taylor on 31/03/2010 11:38:07

Title: Should the IAU abandon the term "planet"?
Post by: Eric A. Taylor on 31/03/2010 11:38:07
There is STILL a lot of anger over Pluto's "demotion" to "dwarf planet" by the IAU last year. Perhaps the IAU should instead completely abandon the term "planet" altogether. It is after all rather archaic. The term comes from the Latin for "wanderer".
  Today we know of at least 4 or 5 completely different types of objects that orbit stars all made of different stuff. You have the rock balls like Earth, the gas balls like Jupiter, and ice balls like Pluto (here "ice" refers to any solid that would become liquid or gas in normal Earth conditions). We also have hunks of rock, metal and/or ice that are to small to be round. Perhaps terms like "Rock Ball" "Gas Ball" "Ice Ball" "Hunk of Rock" and "Hunk of Ice" would be better (I also dislike the term "asteroid" which is Latin for "star like". Clearly "asteroids" are not at all like stars). This would avoid the term "planet" and give us nice clear categories to place new discoveries into (including items found orbiting other stars). It would also avoid the supposed stigma of demotion.

Perhaps we can even avoid "English centrism" by using Latin. Latin might even sound better than "Gas Ball" which to my ear sounds rather crude.

I know this leaves out moons but everybody already agrees that if you orbit something in orbit around a star that you are a moon (or you're a moon if you orbit a moon).
Title: Should the IAU abandon the term "planet"?
Post by: Soul Surfer on 03/04/2010 18:24:51
No I think that we should develop the qualifiers to describe the different types of planet.