the story of pluto

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I am not a very crazy fan of space and astronomy. At least not yet. Particularly because I have mostly lived in large cities, usually indoors, with my outdoor ventures safely restricted to a little stroll by the dusty, half constructed road that leads to the nearest supermarket, or, what is far more common, a drive across the city in a (as they always are) box shaped automobile. Little, if any, do these things offer a chance to ponder over what’s above and beyond us; hence my indisciplined knowledge (and imagination) about space.

Nonetheless, I always regarded Pluto as a planet. When I was in school, the tiny dark planet named Pluto was firmly established as one of the elite (the nine big ones) in the solar system, despite being very small, very dark and very far away. It was an underdog planet (and hence somewhat my favourite); mysterious, never to be seen by normal observation, and far far away… much like the mysterious heros of old hollywood movies who would silently do heroic deeds, not show off much, get the job done and move away from the scene (after getting the girl and living happily ever after)… yes, if you look at it, one could very well base the entire life around pluto, or atleast its philosophy of being, as I saw it.

Pluto was always in trouble of course. The “big 9” planets were really big, except for him off course. In their annual general meetings, I figured, the big men like jupiter and saturn would look at the tiny weedy pluto, and smile with disgust. “why cant he stay at home for these meetings” Saturn would whisper to Jupiter. “Wait for appropriate time” Jupiter, the biggest one, will console his buddy, “and i will bring it up to the board.

And they all seemd to be waiting for the right moment. Pluto was unique, and that was his advantage. “There’s no one like me” he would always tell his much bigger brothers. “I am far far away, I am small, but… bring on if you may, anyone else like me!!!” he would challange them with the spirit of a true sportsman.

Then entered Xena. Not the warrior princess, but equally worse. A new planetary object even further away from Pluto…. (“there goes his far far away theory” Jupiter laughed hysterically when he first heard of Xena)… and lo and behold, Xena was not only just like pluto, it was slightly bigger. So… the question now was, why is pluto a planet, and not Xena… further, slightly bigger, orbitting the sun. what else do you want.

Then entered, although it was already there, but highlighted more furiously now, pluto’s own moon. It was big enough on its own, and orbitted, as it seemed, not pluto, but a center of gravity between pluto and itself. Wow… that might as well make its moon a planet on its own. Suddenly pluto was facing all sorts of allegations. “Well I have a couple of more moons” it would tell others, “which orbit me and me alone…” it would say with teary eyes. “what about Kuiper belt, weedy” Mars would yell at it, safer in the knowledge that its closeness to the sun was in no danger. “Dont you know that after Xena, there are thousands more just like you, all orbitting the sun. what about them”. “goodness gracious me” Venus would yell. “Are we now going to have thousands of planets?”. “Order Order” earth finally shouted from its chamber. “We are not going to have thousand planets. Its an elite club. The big 9….” “9 you say”, Neptune shouted back “can someone explain this to me. why then Xena is not a planet when its bigger than pluto, and from where I stand, i can see a few more much like her”. “You know what…”, the always angered Mercury whispered to the Sun, “its either pluto and a thousand others, at least hundred, or it’s just us 8…”

Oh and by the way, pluto did not even orbit the sun the same way the other 8 did. The case was getting stronger by the day. When the big 8 joined hands, it was pretty much written on the wall for pluto. Xena was never to be a planet anyway, but she got pluto off the wagon with her. The decision came as expected. ‘Pluto demoted from planetary status’. No more in the elite club. It was labled “dwarf”. It was sent back to the dark areas where it came from. “you are not one of us anymore” it was told. “we have realized our mistake”…. no not even a mistake. “We gave you a chance to prove yourself. But you remained what you were. a small dwarf. you are the weakest link Pluto. You have been voted off. good bye”

The small, icy world of pluto, which we may not know much of in near future, once again went into oblivion. The future generations will grow up knowing that there are 8 planets in our solar system. and a few dwarfs. Who cares about the dwarfs. They may not know that among those dwarfs, there is one dark loner, which once lived alongside the elite, mingled as if it was one of them and was recognized by every child in this world, as the ninth planet. This was so till the time its big brothers conspired against it, and threw it out of the elite club alongwith rest of the dwarfs. Where it may now be doomed to stay, till eternity.


  1. wow! i loved reading this.. wish i could put thoughts and concepts into so many words..

    has this actually happened? first a 13th zodiac, now one less planet??

  2. yes it has actually happened a few years ago. as per official new definition of a “planet”, pluto is not a planet anymore.

    13th zodiac is rather an astrology concept instead of astronomy. (i dont believe in astrology!).

    In any case, the solar system will go about it’s own course no matter how and what we count and what we dont. so nothing changes in that respect!

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