Brussels, Tuesday, August 22, 2006

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Uranus 'Not a Planet', Some Astronomers Say

PRAGUE, Aug. 22 -- In a stunning surprise move at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) general assembly in Prague last night, some astronomers will seek to have Uranus stripped of planetary status, Planet Waves has learned. If accepted later in the week by the full assembly, this would be akin to a revolution in astronomy, overthrowing most scientific findings in the past two and a half centuries.

"We're making headway on chucking Pluto, so we thought we would keep going," said one of the scientists, who spoke from his bunker in the hotel basement, on the condition of anonymity. "Before long, we'll be back to the solar system of Ptolemy. We would go after Neptune, but we can never find the damned thing," he added. "In fact, we're not even sure it exists, so no bother."

"You cannot see Uranus without an artificial telescope, which is cheating," one scientist said. "These people had no clue what they were doing back in 1781 when Uranus was 'discovered' using this despicable method of 'seeing' things. If God wanted us to use telescopes, we would have been born with them sticking out of our eyes."

In addition, Uranus is believed to be smaller than Jupiter and Saturn, the two well established and fully accepted traditional 'gas giants' in our solar system -- which came as a shock to most astronomers, and led to the rebellion. It was previously believed that planets got larger as they extended further out from the Sun.

"There are other problems with maintaining planetary status for Uranus, it's not just about the size. For one thing, Uranus is green, and no other planet is green. Clearly it does not belong in our solar system."

However, the most troubling facts include Uranus's peculiar quality of rotating backwards, and the extremely problematic bit about its polar caps being closer to the Sun than the equator. "But it's still warmer at the equator. Nobody knows why, and I'm tired of not being able to answer this question from my Astronomy 101 students at the community college where I moonlight," the astronomer said. "If we don't count it as a planet, I can avoid the issue."

He continued, "It's also too far from the ecliptic to be considered a planet, and besides which, it's orbit is elliptical. We no longer accept this theory about elliptical orbits because Kepler, who came up with it, was an astrologer."

The proposal to get rid of Uranus will be attached as an amendment to the plan to get rid of Pluto, to be voted on later in the week. "We're going to get rid of both," said Dr. Melvin Peabody of Yale's Bush Observatory. "When these two things get together, they cause nothing but trouble. We heard enough from them back during the French Revolution and the Sixties," he said.

"He's right, Uranus is a naughty planet and doesn't really deserve the name," said Mrs. Prager, a 4th grade teacher from the Leery Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas. "But if they demote it along with Pluto they had best keep them apart."

Another, much less popular proposal currently pending before the IAU would preserve planetary status for Uranus but demote it to a 'juton', because in some ways it's similar to Jupiter. But it's not that similar, and most astronomers feel that seven planets is more than enough. "It was like that for a long time and there's no reason it shouldn't be like that forever," Peabody, from Yale, added.

Planet Waves will have more details as they become available. In other news, Michael Brown, the discoverer of Xena/2003 UB 313 and an entire motel ice bucket of other objects, has claimed discovery of the Moon. "I checked the catalog and amazingly, nobody claimed the discovery, he said." He has named it Malloy, after veteran Los Angeles cop Pete Malloy in the famous TV series Adam-12.

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Real-Life Statement from Mike Brown in Prague