MIDWAY : Pluto’s plight

After months of heated debate over the state of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently arrived at a rather preposterous verdict. Its select panel impudently decided to strip Pluto of its planetary status — 76 years after the puny Pluto was rightly given the status of a planet.

To bring their conspiracy of demoting Pluto to fruition, they didn’t even hesitate to alter

the conventional definition of a “planet”.

According to them, a celestial body can now be considered a planet only if it has sufficient mass for its own gravity to pull it into a nearly spherical shape and has a clear orbit of its own. Unfortunately, Pluto’s orbit overlaps that of its much bigger neighbour, Neptune.

The raison d’être offered by the scientists for redefining planets: “an escalating number of newly identified celestial bodies in the universe”. They are reluctant to add more celestial bodies in an already crowded solar system. Even so, is the demotion of an existing planet justifiable on such shaky grounds? Would Earth lose its status of a planet some day if “bigger” ones are discovered in the solar system?

The ninth rock from the sun, which shares its name with the king of the underworld in Greek mythology, is acknowledged as the planet of regenerative forces, annihilation and transformation. Hence, the latest gaffe of the IAU scientists is bound to send shockwaves through the religiously-minded people. The change is also likely to shake up the field of astrology. Our horoscopes might need a total reworking to keep up with the latest developments. The astrologers, who bring to use the relative position of the nawagrahas to predict our future, must have recoiled at the IAU’s announcement as well. And what about our holy scriptures resplendent with the allusions to the nine planets? They would need rewriting as well.

But Pluto, oblivious of the latest human shenanigans to redraw the map of the solar system, continues on its never-ending journey around the sun.

That doesn’t stop me from grieving at the judgement of some humans. Some things are better left alone. No one can chop and change celestial arrangements at his or her whim.