I saw an article over on Universe Today on the whole star naming scam. This has been one of my pet peeves for a long while - private companies conning you into thinking they're naming a star for you, when they have no such authority with which to do so.

The article goes into how the International Astronomical Union is the only organisation who has any authority to name stars etc. To get to the point one of their comments was as follows, as far as I can tell she's a bit of a Pluto-planetary status advocate (why anybody would be passionate about how we catalogue solar system objects - I have no idea):

Why should only the IAU be authorized to name celestial bodies? Who provides such authorization? They messed up royally with Pluto. That decision is not accepted by many astronomers and lay people, and it cannot help but lead one to question why this group should be the defining authority for the whole world.

Now as I'm sure many of my readers know I'm strongly in favour of letting science run off and do its own thing, that's how I think it works best.

So it seems only natural to let astronomers decide what to call things, and where to categorise things in the sky. The IAU is made up of 10000 or so working astronomers which meets every three years at its General Assembly, it unites various national organisations. At least 60 countries recognise the IAU and have representation within the organisation.

If you can think of a better way to do it, please share your ideas.

Then comes up this ridiculous Pluto issue. As I had already written years prior to the decision at the last General Assembly when they voted for a new definition for planets within this system, there was only one logical or consistent way they could go. That was to either remove Pluto, or add every other Pluto-sized world we find in the outer solar system, dozens or even hundreds of them to our list of planets.

Obviously trying to teach school children about the 130 or so "planets" out there, may prove somewhat challenging.

It's not like this is hasn't happened before, for example the then planet Ceres in the 19th century. When lots of other objects started being discovered in the same sort of orbit as Ceres, it was demoted, it was just the largest member of a big pile of leftover rubble from the formation of the solar system. Exactly what we have found with Pluto, except its not even the largest out of its rubble pile any more.

Of course it is also good that we put together a proper definition for planet, even if it only applies to this solar system.

So no, I don't think they "messed up" I think they made the only practical decision they could make.