I remember the exact moment in time when I learned that Pluto would no longer be considered a planet. Pluto officially deemed a dwarf planet on August 24, 2006, but the first time I heard of this disastrous news was in my second-grade classroom at the ripe age of six in 2008.
I thought that my life was ruined. Pluto had forever been my favorite planet because she was the underdog of the nine planets. It was also my favorite part of the planet mnemonic “My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Porcupines.” I was deeply offended that the International Astronomical Union (IAU) would take away the “porcupine” portion of my beloved planetary mnemonic.
Now, I am 20 years old and it has been 14 years since my life was torn planetarily apart. I still think about this beloved planet at least once a day. They say Pluto lost its planetary rights because it was not gravitationally dominant in relation to the celestial bodies surrounding it.
The IAU has three criteria a celestial body must meet to be considered a planet. It must be a celestial body that orbits the sun, the celestial body must be round or nearly round, and finally, it must “clear the neighborhood” around its orbit. Pluto failed to meet the final point of criteria because its orbit overlaps with Neptune, thus not being the dominant gravitational force of its orbit.
While I understand why the IAU’s hand was forced to demote Pluto’s title to a dwarf planet, I am still deeply hurt by the matter. In my heart, Pluto will always be my favorite planet, even if she is only a dwarf in the eyes of planetary science.