I have written before about how sentimental and unscientific—and embarrassingly ungrammatical—the current International Astronomical Union (IAU) definition of planet is. See “Bring Reason Back to Astronomy” for the details.
My plan would have made any object massive enough to maintain a round shape a planet, regardless of what was around it, and regardless of how this would explode the number of planets. I am even okay with moons being a type of planet, if they’re large enough to make themselves spherical.
Well, a team of NASA scientists, headed up by chief Pluto detective Alan Stern, have recently submitted a plan to IAU that closely resembles mine:
The scientists boil it all down to “round objects in space that are smaller than stars.” Yes, that would mean that Earth’s Moon, as well as many others, would be classified as a planet.
Let me bask in my predictive power for a moment. Mmmm… Okay, I’m done. Now, maybe we can get around to my ideas for a simpler way to refer to exoplanets, and a better name for that obnoxiously named seventh planet in our own solar system.