Strange little Pluto has been demoted from its planetary status. It’s no longer a planet. Just an icy little oddball floating out in space, now called King of the Kuiper Belt rather than the runt of the solar system. Pluto was always my favorite planet, being that it didn’t fit the conventional definition of planet (this is why it’s status has been changed by some astronomers) and that it was so small and didn’t behave exactly like the other planets. Pluto’s status has been up for debate for a few years now, even though it has its own moon, even though it revolves around the sun like the other planets do. Its orbit is elliptical, it crosses paths with Neptune and it travels above and below the main plane of the solar system. It isn’t as spherical as the other planets either. This has prompted many to conclude that it isn’t a real planet. But nothing is random in the universe. Like Jupiter has a reason for existing though it seems to be a failed star (it protects the earth from constant, random bombardments of meteors which would be disastrous to life on earth), Pluto must have a reason for being here as well, though we may not know what the reason is yet.
Named after the Greek god of the underworld (Hades) who was later Romanized (Pluto), it fits is outsider status perfectly. Alone and farthest from the sun’s warm energy, the coldest planet in the solar system, mysterious (we still don’t know enough about it after all of these years) and following its own rules it seems, Pluto has held a fascination for many for a long time. Many think that it was once a comet passing through the solar system that was captured by the sun’s gravity, therefore, the elliptical orbit and strange shape. But it has a moon, Charon. So it must have a rather substantial gravitational field of its own. So, is it really a captured comet or something else? Some now call it a dwarf planet or trans-Neptunian object.
Gustav Holst created a memorable and beautiful piece for Pluto in his work The Planets, Pluto figures heavily in astrology and certain personality traits (supposedly) and a robotic probe is on its way to explore the little planetoid. In any case, many astronomers disagree with the assesment that Pluto isn’t a true planet and I suppose the argument will rage on for quite some time.
In the mean time, those of us who have always liked Pluto best will be here to root for The Little Planet That Was.