Pluto, a little ball of methane ice 3.6 billion miles away from the sun, has been making quite a few headlines over the past few years. Scientists and astronomers just can’t seem to make up their mind whether Pluto is a planet or not. It can not be said for sure what will happen in the future, but at the time this post was published (15th April, 2015), Pluto was NOT a planet.
Pluto was discovered in 1930 by an American astronomer, and it was immediately granted planet status. At that time there were no real rules or guidelines governing the planet-hood of celestial bodies, so any largish body could be claimed to be a planet. However with the advancement of space research, some formal definitions had to be coined. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) formulated several definitions, but none was accepted universally. So, for many years, the status of Pluto (and other celestial bodies like Ceres), was uncertain. However in 2006, the IAU came up with some rules that were accepted almost universally. According to the new rules, Pluto would fall under a category of celestial bodies known as dwarf planets, and the number of planets in the Solar System would be reduced down to eight.
Recently, rumours have begun to spread that Pluto is being considered for promotion to planetary status again. Several astronomers and scientists have argued Pluto’s case, and perhaps it is working. Some sources say the Pluto could be reinstated as soon as 2016.
What be the planetary status of Pluto, we are sure to get a kick out of astronomers arguing over it like children.