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Philip Metzger

Debunking an Urban Legend of Asteroidal Proportions

17 Mar 2018, 00:34 UTC
Debunking an Urban Legend of Asteroidal Proportions
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Planets vs Asteroids
There’s an urban legend going around since 2006 that says “asteroids used to be planets, but astronomers discovered they exist in a belt so way back in the mid 1800s the astronomers reclassified them as non-planets. For the same reason, Kuiper Belt objects like Pluto should be non-planets because they, too, are in a belt.” I call this an urban legend because that’s all it is. There is no truth behind the claim that asteroids were made non-planets because they exist in a belt. The evidence makes this overwhelmingly clear. If you don’t believe me, then for now read this one quote from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) resolutions as recently as 1948:
In the case of a planet that passes closer to the Earth than the orbit of Mars, a definitive number can be given after a single opposition, provided that the planet has been well observed, and that a satisfactory orbit has been obtained. (translated from French; bold added)
Yep, they were considered a type of planet, so calling them planet was perfectly legitimate, all the way into the 1950s, even though everybody knew they are in a belt and don’t clear their orbits. The ...

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