The Re-discovery of the God of the Underworld

CarontePluto, the Roman god of death, has attracted much media attention in recent days now that the New Horizons mission will pass near this planetary system and take the most detailed photos never seen. New Horizons is on its way to study the band of asteroids and outer planetoids in the solar system known as the Kuyper Belt.

The planet is not alone. In recent years scientists have confirmed that it has five moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra, Cerberus, and Styx. Most are very small and were discovered by the Hubble telescope in the last decade. Charon was discovered in 1978 and is so large that, along with Pluto, it’s considered part of a double-planet system whose center of gravity is in the space between them.

There is much excitement in the scientific world. Today we’re expecting the most detailed pictures of Pluto ever taken, however even in the last few days the pictures that have come have provided astronomers with unforeseen details. For instance, Pluto is no longer a white dot in the sky, a lump of white ice in space. It has some mineral and chemical complexity. This is attested by the colors of the planet, which was just discovered to be red, with several other colors on its surface.

Notice I said planet. Many of the scientists who rebelled against the arrogant demotion of Pluto to the status of dwarf planet by the astronomical bureaucracy the past decade are now emboldened and refusing to call it a dwarf planet. Some are making calls to reinstitute Pluto as a planet.

For the latest images, visit this page from NASA.

About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' and founder of societyofepicurus.com. He's also written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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4 Responses to The Re-discovery of the God of the Underworld

  1. Eupraxsophy says:

    Reblogged this on Sarvodaya and commented:
    This seminal event in space exploration marks the first time that every planet in our solar system has been visited at least once by a spacecraft. Many more images are to come, with the full set to be published by September of this year.

    To think that NASA pulled this off with a vastly reduced budget. Imagine what it could do with more financial and public support. Here is hoping this milestone spurs greater interest in space exploration.

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  2. foggytown says:

    As a long time lurker, I enjoy your blog. While I don’t consider myself an Epicurean, I am a follower of Epicurus–I’ll leave that discussion for another time.
    I would hardly call Pluto’s re-classification as a dwarf planet “arrogant”, or even consider it to be a demotion. As we gather new information, it sometimes upends our previous notions, leading to a re-evaluation. Would Pluto to be re-classified as a planet, then we would have 11 planets; for there is no definition that would include Pluto but continue to exclude Haumea and Makemake.

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    • foggytown says:

      Also there is another dwarf planet, Eris, which is larger than Pluto. I assume that you believe that it is only arrogance preventing it from taking its rightful place amongst the planets. As time goes on, we will continue to discover even more dwarf planets out beyond Pluto. The reclassification of Pluto did not make it less of a planet, it simply classified it as one amongst a sub-group of planets. A dwarf fruit tree is still a fruit tree, it is simply a specific kind of fruit tree. A dwarf planet is still a planet, albeit a particular kind of planet.

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    • hiramcrespo says:

      Thanks for commenting and I’m glad you enjoy the blog!

      By saying it was arrogant I was echoing the feelings of the pro-Pluto crowd. I mean, Pluto may be smaller than our moon but it’s a miniature planetary system complete with five moons (four, if you consider both Charon and Pluto a dual-planet system).

      I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other (dwarf planet or full planet) and would personally be fine with there being 60 planets in our solar system if that’s how it turns out after we study the Kuyper Belt. I’m a sci fi enthusiast and I feel that with that, and with the huge amount of recent exoplanetary research, reality is starting to look more like the Star Wars Universe.

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