The furor over Pluto's demotion continues. Alan Stern, the lead scientist of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto chimed in:
Pluto was disqualified because its highly elliptical orbit overlaps with that of Neptune.
But Dr Stern pointed out that Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune have also not fully cleared their orbital zones. Earth orbits with 10,000 near-Earth asteroids. Jupiter, meanwhile, is accompanied by 100,000 Trojan asteroids on its orbital path.
These rocks are all essentially chunks of rubble left over from the formation of the Solar System more than four billion years ago.
"If Neptune had cleared its zone, Pluto wouldn't be there," he added.
Stern said like-minded astronomers had begun a petition to get Pluto reinstated. Car bumper stickers compelling motorists to "Honk if Pluto is still a planet" have gone on sale over the internet and e-mails circulating about the decision have been describing the IAU as the "Irrelevant Astronomical Union".