Smite the Pluto-haters! Summon the Mi-Go!

“What do you think ought to be the fate of the other Pluto-like worlds we are discovering (Eris and Makemake certainly, and perhaps even Ceres now that we know it to be more than a mere asteroid)?”

I would be happy to have Eris called Planet Ten.

All the SF books I read when I was a kid assumed more planets might be found: none of my books assumed that we would enter some sort of weird, regressive dark ages where the Moon Shots would be dead and gone and the number of planets would be dropped from nine to eight!

In law, we have what is called a ‘grandfather clause’. This clause stipulates that any use legal under the old law be permitted to continue under the new law, but that new uses not be permitted. While I would not mind an official definition of what a planet is to include or exclude Eris as some sort of dwarf planet or asteroid, I simply do not think this definition should be ex post facto applied to Pluto, which, by common custom and common consent, is indeed a planet, and has always been regarded as such. Likewise and for the same reason, Ceres should be called an asteroid, even if it fulfilled a modern definition for a planet, because, by custom, it has always been an asteroid.

Let me give you an example of a grandfather clause. The sun rises in the West on Luna. Earth’s moon is the only body in the universe, now or forever, where its sun will rise in the west. Why? Because the direction for east and west for the moon were established by common custom and common consent long before the directions for east and west were established by astronomers for the various planets. For the planets, all planets hereafter, “East” is defined as the direction of sunrise. Only the moon is different.

No scientist suggests we overturn the common custom and relabel the north and south poles of the Moon to make the moon fit a law enacted after the custom was established. The direction of sunrise on the moon was allowed as an exception to the law under a grandfather clause.

The same thing should be done here.