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Pluto – Even a planet can’t be sure of its status

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New Horizons Spacecraft approaching Pluto

Pluto was formerly defined as the ninth and smallest planet in our solar system but on August 24, 2006 it was redefined as a dwarf planet, and the total number of planets was reduced to eight. This happened because astronomers discovered several similarly sized objects in a belt just past Neptune, known as the Kuiper belt.

I remember growing up as a kid, having the notion that there are nine planets in our solar system rammed into my head. Well, even scientific claims like the number of planets is subject to change. Although I must admit, I still think of Pluto as a planet. And all that other similarly sized stuff, well, it’s just stuff. (The power of naming, I guess).

In ancient Greek myth Plutos was a god of wealth. Hence the word, plutocracy (rule by wealthy elites). But Pluto is more commonly known as the lord of the underworld.

Eirene (Peace) bearing Plutus (Wealth), Roman copy after a Greek votive statue by Kephisodotos (ca. 370 BC) which stood on the agora in Athens.

Related » Hades, Persephone, Scorpio

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