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International Save Pluto Day

Those of you who have been following the savepluto LiveJournal already know that yesterday, those of us at the Society for the Preservation of Pluto as a Planet have declared that February 4, 2007, will be International Save Pluto Day. And we've posted the International Save Pluto Day Declaration to the website as well.

We're also very glad to note that the Brookline TAB newspaper once again found us newsworthy, running an article titled Brookline couple launches 'International Save Pluto Day.' Because we're not professional astronomers over at SP3. We're regular people trying to generate a grass-roots movement.

And the thing about a grass-roots movement is that it depends upon the general populace to get moving. We've created a framework within which the worldwide net of Pluto supporters can take action. Rather than having a diffuse series of (say) Internet petitions, an International Save Pluto Day would help impress upon the consciousness of the world that Pluto still has a broad base of intense support. As anyone can see in the declaration, we're encouraging people to contact the IAU on or about that day, to make it clear how important Pluto is to all of us. If they receive a bunch of separate petitions or letters spread over the course of a year, it may not make an impression. But if they receive a slew of support in the space of a week, they'll definitely notice.

And we want people to make a celebration of the day. That's why we're grateful to our friends at the Clay Center Observatory in Brookline, Massachusetts. Although the Center is neutral on the issue, they've agreed to be the first place to run a program in honor of Save Pluto Day. And we're hoping that by the time February 4, 2007 arrives, there will be others, all over the world.

So if you're on our side, please consider doing what you can to get the word out there. Talk it up on your blogs. Contact observatories and planetaria and ask if they plan a program for that day. Let the media know you're interested. Create an entry on Wikipedia. But get out the word.

Because if we can have an international day where everyone goes around talking like a pirate, surely we can have one where everyone thinks about Pluto.


Lord knows I am all for citizen engagement, and I should probably just follow the links for real info. Nevertheless, can you please give me the brief sound byte on why I should think about Pluto or care that it is a planet?
It's hard to give a soundbite on this issue, but at a minimum, the IAU's vote to demote Pluto was flawed. Most astronomers had already left the meeting, the ones deciding the issue were not experts on planetary science, and the final definitions they developed are unscientific, complicated, and confusing.

To sex it up a bit . . .

How we picture our neighbors in the solar system effects how we picture ourselves, and the broader galaxy. We teach the solar system to little children as one of the first science facts, because knowing our local planetary neighborhood is one of the essential building blocks of science education.

The decision to "downgrade" Pluto deserved serious consideration. It didn't get it. The decision got made at the end of a meeting after the real experts had left. Worse, the people who came up with the new definition -- because they were not the experts -- came up with something nscientific, complicated and confusing.

Given today's problems, whether Pluto is a planet or not seems pretty small, almost laughable. But if we can't take the time to get the elementary science we teach to our children right, how do we expect to build a better world than the one we have today?

Re: To sex it up a bit . . .

I like it. May we adapt it for the official website?

Re: To sex it up a bit . . .


Re: To sex it up a bit . . .

The decision to "downgrade" Pluto deserved serious consideration. It didn't get it.

It got more consideration than did the original decision to "upgrade" it. Why should we be stuck with calling it a planet, when it clearly isn't one, just because someone made a mistake 70 years ago?

When Ceres was planetised, the error was quickly discovered, and it was demoted. Pluto is farther off, so it took longer to discover the error, and then it took another few decades of arguing about it, but it's finally been reversed, and about time too. Eight planets. Four little ones and a belt of random junk, then four big ones and another belt of random junk.

Re: To sex it up a bit . . .

You are wrong. Pluto is a planet, and if you want to argue otherwise, go do it on your own blog.
How about a Talk Like A Pirate About Pluto Day? "Arr, it be a cold and lonely little island in the endless ocean o' space."

Of course a pirate would be more likely to talk about Neptune.
You are very funny. Ha ha. :-)

three points
I appreciate that you have chosen my 35th birthday to celebrate Pluto. None of those Mickey Mouse celebrations for me - you're going all-out! Almost out of the solar system, for example. I know, I know...you're thinking "I Oorta slug him one for this type of post..." If you say that out loud, I'm sure some folks will think you're pretty far-out yourself. Stay cool.
You do know that it's also Superbowl Sunday, right? All those football fans honoring your birthday...

I don't follow sports

I pay minimal attention to sports. I understand that it's big business and it helps our economy. Other than that, it's not something worth paying attention to...unless the Red Sox are doing something important. I'm required to pay attention to them, by marriage. Are they in the Super Bowl this year?

Also, if they were really honoring me, they'd invite me to sing the national anthem. That also meshes nicely with my plans to conquer the planet. After all, if millions of people hear me sing, that's millions of people who understand that I will rule with an iron fist inside a iron glove - my singing is one of my most fearsome weapons.

An aside

If this is actually a serious campaign, and not merely an exercise in costless whimsy like "Talk Like a Pirate Day," you need to find good ways to make that clear.

For most of the public, this is just interesting. And everyone assumes that when the expert scientific body makes a decision, then the decision is solid. Your movement is generally regarded as a deliberate joke at the moment.

That makes a good hook. What you need are the things to make people think and say "hmmm....your right, I guess that is kind of important." You need to figure out what process would make the relevant body change its mind, or if there are other bodies that you could influence to say something different. And, if you are building a grass roots movement, you need to have somehting for the people you mobilize to do.

Right now, you are in the same catagory in people's minds as "The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster." Cute, and makes a point, but not something to be taken seriously. If you actually want to get the decision reversed, you need to figure out how to move to the next stage.

Feel free to drop an email if you are interested in my thoughts.

Re: An aside

We're serious about our goal, but we want people to have fun pursuing the goal.

As it is, there are also professional astronomers, such as Alan Stern and Mark Sykes, who are mobilizing their own community to get the decision reversed. I think we'll see some interesting action in Rio in 2009. But in the meantime, if you have any thoughts, we can discuss them off-line.
On a related note, today (November 3rd) is Sandwich Day. Considered by many to be the most delicious day.

Astonishingly, wikipedia does not have an entry on Sandwich Day, but rest assured it exists.
Dunno if you saw it, but PopSci had something about reaction to the Pluto in its most recent issue. I put a link to the thing they mentioned in my LJ last week.
I'll take a look. Thanks!

Why Planets Will Never Be Defined

Might be of interest, Michael.

Why Planets Will Never Be Defined


December 2016

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