Edinburgh Students are just catching up with New Mexico Legislators… as noted by the Bad Astronomer, the State of New Mexico recently passed legislation declaring that Pluto is a planet, at least while passing through New Mexican skies. The State of California has debated an even more amusing bill. If we are not careful the IAU will get billed by California State Schools and Museums for the cost of changing educational materials. One detects a certain knowingness here. This burning issue has now been spotted by our local student newspaper, who noted that Plutan Officials have so far not reciprocated by recognising the legitimacy of the State of New Mexico.
Pluto expert I is not, but I was at the infamous IAU vote in Prague, and wrote a post about it. This got discovered by Laurel Kornfeld, who spearheads the “Please Save Pluto” petition, and somehow we ended up having a debate on somebody else’s blog. I checked out the petition. The quality of the comments on the signatures page puts that shabby and hurried IAU debate to shame, of course. I tried to Vote but couldn’t make it work. Hmmm.
New Mexico feels a special connection because Clyde Tombaugh, discover of Pluto lived there. Maybe I can get the Scottish Executive to vote to bring back Ceres ? Ceres of course was called a planet for about fifty years until the list of similar size things between Mars and Jupiter made this a bit silly and it got demoted. Sound familiar?
Lets cook up some connections. I am the Regius Professor of Astronomy, and my predecessor was Charles Piazzi Smyth, whose godfather was Giuseppe Piazzi, who disovered Ceres in Palermo in 1801. My good friend Pepi Fabbiano comes from Palermo. (Well, ok, she lives in Cambridge now..) Best of all, just up the road in the Kingdom of Fife, is the town of Ceres. We can start a petition, hold an international conference in Ceres, and convince the Scottish Executive that the Honour of Alba is at stake, noting that exchange visits to Sicily would be rather jolly.
The Dawn mission, launching this year, is due to visit Ceres and will get there BEFORE New Horizons reaches Pluto ! Controversy and Competition – even better ! The time is now ! This sounds like a real winner.
If I can be bothered.