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Want to be a planet? Be bigger than Texas.

November 21st, 2008 - 10:22 am

This has nothing to do with weather, still less with hurricanes, but I found it on Eric Berger’s “SciGuy” blog, and it’s amusing enough to warrant a post:

Given the considerable debate as to whether such outer solar system objects as Pluto and Eris (2003 UB313) should be counted as planets, and the not-entirely satisfactory resolution on the matter recently passed by the International Astronomical Union, we offer the best possible definition of a planet–the TEXAN definition: . . .

• Since any object too small to be considered a planet is a “minor planet”, a “small solar system body”, or a “dwarf planet”, and

• Since anything bigger than TEXAS is certainly not minor, not small, and not a dwarf,

• Therefore, a planet must be any star-orbiting, non-fusing celestial body larger than the smallest sphere containing TEXAS

Using the present boundaries of Texas, this works out to a definition of a planet as an object with a diameter of at least 1,298.5 km (806.9 miles). This is the distance (through the Earth) between the northwestmost point in the Texas Panhandle and the southern tip of Texas near Brownsville. With this definition, our solar system has at least 10 and perhaps 14 known planets, so far.

Heh. There’s even a helpful photo illustration, for comparison purposes.

As a USC football fan (with, consequently, a certain degree of antipathy toward a certain university in Texas), I can’t entirely endorse this plan. But still, it’s pretty funny.

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