VANCOUVER

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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Because we have been waiting for you for a decade

10 is the loneliest number

Chuck Ansbacher photo

Size isn’t everything

Pluto, the ninth planet in our solar system, is a big frozen ball of methane and ammonia. It is essentially a gigantic icy fart with a bit of Windex for colour. Many scientists don’t like Pluto. It’s small, it’s lumpy, and it’s got an awkward orbital trajectory. It smells. It’s them back in junior high school.

Discovered February 18, 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, it was named by 11-year-old Venetia Burney from Oxford, England, supposedly after the Greek god of the Underworld. But, please. We all know the real source.
September 5, 1930, Pluto the dumb dog makes his first appearance in the Mickey Mouse short, The Chain Gang, in which Mickey, convicted of murdering Minnie over an article of soiled underwear, escapes prison. Pluto is sent out to find and bring the deviant rodent in.

Pluto the dog, 1930. Pluto the planet, 1930. The smell of a tremendous, space-spanning, cartoonish PbhtbthbthBTHB! An 11-year-old girl makes the connection. Science.

Recently, with the advance of stalking technology, several more large astrological bodies have been making themselves known in the region at the outskirts of our solar system know as the Kuiper Belt, wherein float lopsidedly, an unknown number of asteroids, including Sedna, Quaoar, Lila, Xena, Santa, and now 2003UB313. 2003UB313 was found by Mike Brown, Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz last June and they were forced to announce their discovery before properly investigating as hackers had plunged into their computer records and were about to claim the lump for themselves. No honour amongst geeks.

The new, tenth “planet” is three times the size of Pluto, has an equally loopy orbit a full 45 degrees off-kilter from the other planets, is ten billion miles from the sun, which it circles (ish) every 588 years and is, if anything, even colder than Pluto. Also, judging by spectral analysis of reflected light, it’s another frozen Parp! of methane. Many in the science community want to strip Pluto of its title as planet and make Planet X the ninth planet. Others want nothing of neither of them. Brian Marsden from the Minor Planet Centre says everything after Neptune is just Kuiper Belt Objects. Alan Stern from the Southwest Research Institute and NASA claims there may be a 1000 such objects out there; should they all be made planets? Daniel Green at the Harvard Smithsonian Centre of Astrophysics puffs “No one seriously calls Pluto a major planet anymore except a couple of whiners who are stuck in the 1930’s.” Only Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York has a firm sense of what he and his galactic revisionist friends are up against. Speaking recently about removing Pluto from his exhibit in 2000, Tyson tearfully admits, “I still have folders of hate mail from third-graders…”

Send us your suggestions, and we’ll forward the best names to the International Astronomical Union officially dubbing the new kid. Winner gets, uh… Tell you what. The Only staff will all fart into the office icebox and if anything takes shape we’ll slap on a brass plaque and mail it to you. It’ll be small and lumpy. You’ll like it.

  1. Ed Minchau

    Lila, Xena, and 2003UB313 are all the same object. It is now most commonly referred to as Xena (and its newly-discovered moon has been given the name Gabrielle). - Oct 2, 09:03 AM

  2. alan

    Hey Ed, yeah, I took a liberty there, I just thought it was hilarious these names they came up with for a potential planet, even if it is just scientists emailing each other back and forth having a laugh until they have to nail something down for posterity. I didn’t know they’d already found and named a moon for the place, too though, cheers! - Oct 7, 01:00 AM

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