Interplanet Janet, she’s a flabbergasted girl


pluto.jpgNatalie: “Good news.”
Dana: “What?”
Natalie: “Pluto’s still a planet.”
Sally: “It was touch and go there for a while?”
Natalie: “Don’t underestimate Pluto. Pluto doesn’t know the word ‘quit.’ ”

— “Ordnance Tactics,” “Sports Night”

We learned the solar system in grade school. Later on, we learned that Neptune, sometimes, was the farthest planet from the sun.

Now, Pluto’s not even a planet. What’s this galaxy coming to?

Gustav Holst composed an orchestral suite revolving around “The Planets,” but it lacked two familiar haunts. Earth was omitted from the 1917 work because the English composer focused on an astrological concept.

And Pluto was undiscovered at the time.

Maybe that’s why astronomers decided to demote the ninth wonder of the solar system from full-fledged planet to dwarf planet. Proving that lookism isn’t limited to Hollywood producers, they told our most distant cousin, “Too small!”

He’s the Rudy of the interplanetary leagues.

I was an astronomy buff as a wee lad, gazing at the amazing pictures and illustrations in magazines, since I couldn’t see them directly in the light-infested suburban atmosphere.

Pluto always had a mysterious allure. What would it like to be so far from home, on a frozen rock where the sun is just another starry speck in a dark sky?

It doesn’t matter. Even with the unlikely possibility of planetary shuttle service in our lifetime, Pluto will be the Frostbite Falls, Minn., of destinations. You can get there, but it will take three layovers (including a 56-hour stop on Io), a huge wad of cash (or frequent flyer points), a dog sled team and 38 inoculations.

So then there were eight, plus three dwarf planets (including Ceres and Xena) and a bunch of rocks. This is shaping up to be a sad little solar system.

And we can’t even afford to move to another quadrant. Stupid astronomical reclassification.


About this entry