Readers of the Center for Astronomy Education: Improving Astronomy Education CAE@astrolrner listserv were asked to complete a pre-workshop assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com).
I believe Pluto should be a planet.
(SD) Strongly disagree.
(SA) Strongly agree.
CAE@astrolrner listserv reader responses (39)
(SD) : 9 students
(D) : 17 students
(N) : 5 students
(A) : 4 students
(SA) : 4 students
CAE astrolrnr readers were given the opportunity to explain their pre-instruction opinion, responses are listed below verbatim.
Briefly explain your answer regarding your belief/disbelief in astrology. (Graded for completion.)
"Experts in planetary science have agreed that given everything we know about the solar system, it doesn't make sense to keep calling Pluto a planet. Who am I to argue with them?"Previous post (Cuesta College students):
"The evidence such as the composition, inclination of it orbit and size are strong evidence that Pluto was not formed in the same manner as the other planets; however, it has been considered a planet since its discovery, so may we should continue to do so with a disclamer."
"Greatly different orbit, size, part of a binary system, one of several other outer solar system objects."
"Density makes it look more like other Kuiper Belt objects. Eccentricity is quite high compared to other planets."
"No morphological reason"
"There's a reason why it should not be, and the public should not sway the scientists who decided that."
"Being a planet is a definition."
"Historical purposes. There is so much astronomy jargon that is historical, why not keep Pluto? Besides, the IAU definition is not a well-formed definition."
"Should never have been designated a planet. I understand why it was; I understand how it was; it had to do with what we knew at the time. But knowing what we now know, it never would have been called a planet in the first place."
"I believe that requiring that a planet be the dominant object in its orbit, as well as being massive enough to be spherical, is a reasonable definition. I have heard no compelling arguments in favor of pluto being a planet."
"I've seen a planetarium that shows 3-D (Imiloa, Hawaii). It is instantly obvious that 8 planets share a common motion (and heritage) and Pluto does not."
"If Pluto were a planet, that would make our classification scheme inconsistent."
"Pluto's physical and orbital characteristics match it with the Kuiper Belt better than any planet."
"I believe it shouldn't be a "major" planet (like Mars, Jupiter, etc), but should 'dwarf planets' be a subcategory of planet? I'm not sure."
"I'm not a fan of the way the IAU's definition, but I agree that with so many similar objects being discovered, it is possible we will end up with 30+ planets if we kept the old definition."
"Classification can be subjective, but it's better if we strive for it to be objective -- and there are good reasons to think of Pluto as being in a different category than the terrestrial and gas planets."
"Pluto's characteristics are so dissimiliar to the other planets."
"lf Pluto is a planet so are other KBOs"
"We would end up with hundreds or thousands of planets, most of them ice balls like Pluto."
"I'm sentimental about it - it should be for historical reasons. But I have found the debate to be a place where people ask lots of questions."
"There are likely to be too many trans-Neptunian objects of roughly Pluto size to call them all planets. Have mercy on 5th graders who have to memorize all planet names."
"I agree that Pluto is just 1 of 10s, 100s, 100000s of rocky debris beyond Neptune. I don't think it's historical signif should give it special 'planet*' status."
"Doesn't fit with the two main categories of planets in our solar system. Fits quite well with the other KBOs."
"History and culture. Can be a member of more than one class"
"There is no longer a logical basis for Pluto to be considered a planet; however, the notion does have historical merit."
"Pluto should be grand-fathered in, as it has been a planet for the entire lifetimes of most of the people alive today."
"It is a dwarf planet as per IAU, so it is a planet with an adjective."
"what's in a name? nothing. But there are too many objects of comparable size to call Pluto something special."
"The campaign to de-planetize Pluto was started in 1930 by one very bitter astronomer jealous over the media and fame that accompanied its discovery (an early form of the sandbagging that would happen to Carl Sagan later). This personal crusade against Pluto and its discoverer should end. Stars vary in size by a factor of 1000x, why can't planets?"
"Pluto has been a planet since before I was in diapers. It should stay a planet."
"Pluto seems to have more similarities with KBO's than with those objects classified as planets."
"Its a matter of definition, and it is possible to make a definition that includes or excludes it. Emotion shouldn't be a factor. A method of sorting solar system objects is necessary and a definition that includes Pluto would include a good number of similar objects."
"I believe it's properties are fundamentally different from the 'accepted' eight planets in our solar system. There are many other solar system objects that are more similar to Pluto, and unless all of them are considered planets too, I think it would be illogical to only count Pluto as a planet for legacy purposes. However, I think the current definition of a 'planet' can be improved. Specifically, I think the 'must have cleared it's orbit' criterion should not be necessary to call something a planet. I think 1.'orbits the star' and 2.'will approach hydrostatic equilibrium' or 'is or will become an oblate spheroid due to gravity', and 3. 'does not have enough mass to ever generate a fusion reaction' would be a good set of criteria to classify a planet by. If this were the case, Pluto would be a planet, but so would many many more bodies in the solar system"
"There are arguments for or against the inclusion of large KBO's in the designation of planets. Ultimately, I think it is up to the planetary scientists who study such objects to decide what is the most useful classification for their particular research."
"To me, a rose would still smell as sweat by any other name... Pluto is still the same fascinating solar system object whether it is called a 'planet' or not. The only reason I would leave it a planet is because the public cares, and they think we took it away from them. Thus I am neutral. Also, it might be harder to get congress to fund a mission to Pluto-the-not-planet, so thank goodness New Horizons is already off the ground."
"Pluto is a tiny icy rock that is very different from the other planets. There are too many other objects just like Pluto. It is obviously in an other class of object."
"Pluto has been called a planet since its discovery in 1930 by Tombaugh. The latest definition of planet accepted by the IAU is hardly a well defined mathematical physical concept. The debate has made a mockery of astronomers. So, in the end, keep Pluto as a planet because, as Tevye would say, TRADITION !"
"Using the definition now accepted for Planets, Pluto just doesn't fit."
"Not large enough etc. - If Pluto is a planet then we would have a plethera of others to include."