Pluto Before New Horizons

In a way, writing science-related posts is a mite frustrating. Things become outdated quickly due to new developments. It is also exciting to be able to learn and post about those new things that come along. In some ways, however, certain discoveries do not entirely negate previous knowledge. In this case, Pluto.

It was kicked out of the Planets Club in 2006 and sent to the minor leagues as a dwarf planet, or Trans-Neptunian object. (I'm still not over that.) In July 2015, the New Horizons (not related to the Moody Blues song) probe gave us pictures and collected data to study. It did not go well for the expectations of secular planetologists.

Even before the New Horizon probe, Pluto was a problem for cosmic evolution. It was evidence against secular theories, and is more of a problem now.
Pluto from New Horizons. Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins Univ / APL, Southwest Research Inst
Over the years, the mass of Pluto was estimated several times, making it much smaller than originally projected. Supposedly it had and effect on the orbits of Uranus ("Father Sky") and Neptune, but its mass is far too small. Apparently those disturbances in the orbital force were errors, and its discovery at all was coincidental.

One of the large problems the dwarf planet gave to secularists is that it testified against the best-of-the-worst guess about the origin of the solar system, i.e., the "nebular hypothesis". You would think that swirling gasses that coalesced to form the solar system would provide uniform orbits and planetary rotations. That's not what is observed. Pluto is off at an angle of seventeen degrees, and its axis of rotation is radically tilted.

For that matter, Uranus is so tilted, it essentially rolls around the sun in its orbit, and Venus as well as several moons of gas giants have retrograde rotations — they go the opposite way compared to Earth and other planets. Explainez-vous that, mein Herr. This indicates special creation, not cosmic evolution.

The following article from 2009 has relevant material today.

Because of perceived irregularities in the motion of Uranus, Percival Lowell (1855–1916), the founder of the observatory, believed in the existence of a ninth planet. He dubbed it Planet X and calculated that it would be six times more massive than Earth. He even specified its location.2 Lowell searched for the planet without success from 1906 until he died.

. . . 

Pluto is so faint that it can only be seen with a telescope 30 cm (12 in) or larger, and astronomers were unable to determine its size and mass. Early estimates could rely only on the deviations of the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. The size was quickly revised down from Lowell’s estimate, and eventually astronomers settled on a mass about three quarters that of Earth.

You can read the entire article at "A lesson from Pluto". You may also be interested in this 2015 post, "Pluto Puzzles Anti-Creationists and Evolutionists".

This video has no sound. "Using actual New Horizons data and digital elevation models of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, mission scientists have created flyover movies that offer spectacular new perspectives of the many unusual features that were discovered and which have reshaped our views of the Pluto system – from a vantage point even closer than the spacecraft itself."