Is Pluto a planet again?
Aug 24, 2006 went down in history as the day the solar system shrank to eight planets after Pluto lost its planetary status and became a dwarf planet.
Just a little over eight years and countless rewritten science textbooks later, it looks like the downgraded planet named after the Greek god of the underworld could be making a comeback.
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics conducted a debate about what made a planet, well, a planet.
After three leading experts presented their various viewpoints, the audience voted and came to one conclusion - that Pluto IS a planet.
While it is by no means a scientifically binding vote, the debate leaves the door open for Pluto to be reinstated among the planetary big boys.
I'll spare most of you the details, but if you're keen, you can read a summary of what happened in Harvard's press release over here.
Or if you have an hour plus to spare to listen to the entire argument and watch the audience vote, you can watch the embedded YouTube video right here.
How did Pluto get downgraded in the first place?
For those of you not so well-versed in astronomy, here's how Pluto lost its planetary status.
In 2006, the International Astronomical Union, the global body that names celestial bodies, came up with a formal definition which stated that a celestial body is considered a planet if:
1) it orbits the sun,
2) is round or is nearly round, and
3) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit i.e. it has to be the object with the greatest gravitational influence in its orbit.
While Pluto checked the boxes for criteria 1 and 2, it was deemed too small to fulfill No. 3 and was thus reclassified as a dwarf planet.