Astronomers declare February no longer a month

By Phil Plait | March 7, 2009 8:44 am

I have seen this around the web, but I can’t find the original source. It’s written by Michael Haber, but a search hasn’t turned up much about him. It’s pretty funny!

Emboldened by their success in declaring Pluto not a planet, the International Astronomical Union determined this week by a close vote that February is too short to be considered a true month. It has, however, been granted the newly created status of “dwarf month.” It shares this dubious distinction with several other calendar time spans, including Labor Day Weekend, Christmas Vacation, and the Time Between When You Were Supposed to Get Your Oil Changed and When You Actually Did.

“It only seems fair,” said IAU President Ron Eckers. “February reaches a peak size of 29 days, averaging only 28 days for 75 percent of the time. Recent research has shown that other periods, such as the Time Between When You Were Supposed to Get Your Oil Changed and When You Actually Did, often exceed this meager time frame. In fact, this erratic behavior only strengthens our case that February does not belong in the same classification as the eleven ‘true’ months.”

Eckers also warned that the crop of 30-day “so-called” months should be careful to maintain their number of days. “They’re already cutting it pretty close in my book.”

I think that pretty much nails it on the head.

And hey, if you know of (or are) Michael Haber, pipe up in the comments. This was pretty good!

Tip o’ the dew shield to Steven Raine.


Comments (108)

  1. Brilliant. Can’t imagine a better way to start off Saturday.

  2. John Phillips, FCD
  3. The only way this could be any better is if it was a reaction to the goverment of Illinois declaring Pluto a planet.

  4. Troy

    I appreciate the humor of this but actually February’s rather short length much closer resembles the actual length of a true lunar orbit, month being a shortened version of moonth.

  5. Savino

    February is a month!!! It has at least 3 weekends, it has the most important holiday here in brazil (carnival) and it has its own atmosphere, ok??? It´s a planet… I mean, a month!!!

  6. Ah, the argument from etymology! Planet means wanderer, and Pluto wanders as much as the others, doesn’t it?

  7. john

    Actually it’s all part of a fiendish plot by the astronomers. If February is not a month, then Massachusetts, Arizona, and Oregon did not become states during a real month of the year, so they are not part of the U.S. The astronomers can grab Kitt Peak and the Minor Planet Center, creating the new country of Urania(notice that if you write Urania twice, you get uranIAUrania, showing the link with the IAU). After that, they’ll point out that Hawaii is too small to be a state, and soon they will control our skies.
    Sounds as plausible as any of the other conspiracy theories.

  8. I predict total chaos. With February demoted, we’ll only have 11 months in a year and all the calendars will have to be reprinted. Publishing companies will go bankrupt and printers will have to find honest work. There will be rioting in the streets and astronomers will have to go into hiding. Can nothing save us?

  9. I recently made a YouTube video about the computer science concept of “fuzzy logic” and how it could be applied to species:

    Maybe the same thing would be more appropriate here. Fuzzy sets differ from traditional sets in that something can have a partial membership. So instead of the result being binary–it either is a planet, or it isn’t–there’s a smooth gradation of membership from 0 to 1. The 8 planets may have full membership (1) in the planet set, whereas Pluto could have partial membership (.5, or .7, or whatever).

    I think it’s just one more example of humans trying to categorize things where nature never made categories.

  10. john said:

    If February is not a month, then Massachusetts, Arizona, and Oregon did not become states during a real month of the year, so they are not part of the U.S.

    Not true at all! Massachusetts never became a state (of course I also live in a commonwealth, so technically I’m a ferner too). 😉

  11. Cand the IAU declare Illinois not a state?

    Or Oklahoma?

  12. I think we should go with the Shire Reckoning. Twelve 30-day months with the extra 5 or 6 days split as special vacation days at each solstice.

  13. I for one am glad February is no longer a month. I would prefer to skip straight to March, or preferably April, and be done with it.

  14. Tony

    I hate the calendar. I think we should have 5 months of 73 days each (months named 1 2 3 4 and 5) and call it a day. in leap year, just add one day to the end of the calendar and make it an international day off.

    And while we are at it, forget about timezones. Set everyone to GMT and be done with it. I can just as easily eat lunch at noon as I would -7:00 GMT

  15. Dave

    I’m getting the three year-olds to draw angry crayon messages to Michael Haber as I write.

  16. Time keeping will only become more complex. The 28, but sometimes 29, days of February will be redistributed among the other months. How do you evenly divide 28, or 29, by 11. Since you would be adding some days to 30 day months and some days to 31 day months, this becomes even more complicate, but still does not work out. Augh!

    Some months will have more days and start trying to push the other lesser months out. Perhaps the days will be distributed as electrons that move freely from element to element, and these days will move from month to month without any IAU control. Executives at IAU held a press conference. They are all leaving astronomy to move into banking, specializing in sub-prime mortgages, so that they will be treated with more respect.

  17. Michelle

    Are you kidding? I was born in that month! It’s the GREATEST MONTH OF ‘EM ALL!

  18. IVAN3MAN

    That’s a premature April 1st joke.

  19. Those asshats! I like to have my birthday in a month!
    So when am i born now? In a “dwarf month” (as Pluto is a dwarf planet now)?

    /BTW: February sucks. Too cold. ‘Nuff said.

  20. Mount

    What we need is one huge month, big enough to span an entire 365 days, that can control and micromanage everything for us. We will no longer have to conform our schedules around the confines of the old narrow months, for the almighty month will keep our time for us. We will also be safe from terrorism and bad loans.

    Anyone have any ideas what we can call this new 365-day month?? I’m thinking something that starts with a “Y” since none of the old months started with that.

    I’m gonna go declare imminent domain on my neighbor’s backyard because I need to build a shed there.

  21. Mike Rondeau

    I almost fell out of my chair,that was good.

  22. While we at it, who needs years. Astronomers are clearly ahead of everyone else here. I, for one, would vote to convert to JD.

  23. “dwarf months”?? Shouldn’t they be called “februaroids”?

  24. Bennihana123

    Phil, you’re coming to Dragon*Con!

  25. Tony Says:
    I hate the calendar. I think we should have 5 months of 73 days each (months named 1 2 3 4 and 5) and call it a day.

    Shouldn’t we call it a ‘year’, otherwise we’d have 73 days in a day!

    john Says:
    Actually it’s all part of a fiendish plot by the astronomers. If February is not a month, then Massachusetts, Arizona, and Oregon did not become states during a real month of the year, so they are not part of the U.S

    Further proof of the hatred of Lowell by astronomers, since it’s in Flagstaff that he discovered Pluto.

    Also, consider that February is also Black History Month…..



  26. correction: in response to Tony
    five months in a day…..

    /autoseek coffee ON


  27. Wendy

    Don’t forget that February’s “month gravity” is too weak to disturb the days in the following month. (The first 28 days of March are usually arranged exactly the same as Feb’s! For instance, two Friday the 13ths in a row this year.)

    Take a hike, February! Good riddance!

  28. So, what are we to do with Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln (and two of my children?) If we take February away, were they never born?

  29. And while were on the subject, the number of hours in a day has never been enough either. We should extend the length of the day. Reduce the number of days in the year and extend the length of the weekend. After all everyone knows that a Friday, Saturday and Sunday just isn’t enough time to get properly battered and then sober up in time to go back to work on a Monday.

    Just think, if a day were longer, Christmas day would last longer, Birthdays would last longer, Drinking time would last longer… you know it makes sense.

  30. Mchl

    Wait… “dwarf months”… shouldn’t they be called “februaroids”?

  31. Sikay

    I think they should instead redefine the meaning of “month” to include just periods of 28 days. What we need is 13 months with 28 days each (13 x 28 = 364) and then we can have the International Day Off proposed by Tony at the end of the year every year (two days off on leap years). Think about it, the first of the month x would be the same day of the week as the first of the month after x for a years time, and if I’m not mistaken, a lunar cycle takes 28 days, it all fits together. And we would get cool years which would have 13 (!) Friday 13th. As a final argument, pay day would come one extra time every year :) I’m just thinking of what to call the new month…

  32. ArcticSwede

    Oh no! My birthday is gone!

  33. AJ

    @ Mount: it’s eminent, not imminent…
    other than that, 😀

    @ Mchl: LOLage

  34. This is hi-larious and cheered me up on an otherwise gloomy day. Now do you suppose these guys could do something about that abomination called “daylight savings time”?

  35. QUASAR

    February as a dwarf month sound excellent!

  36. QUASAR

    February as a dwarf month sounds excellent!

  37. The Association of Pluto Fans Worldwide has just voted to demote the International Astronomical Union to a fringe organization with minimal credibility in any astronomical matters. Any group that violates its own bylaws, doesn’t allow electronic voting well into the 21st century, and allows four percent of its members to make decisions for the whole group–politically motivated decisions no less–does not deserve to be considered a professional scientific organization.

  38. Scott S.

    I take it those brilliant boys never stopped to think about how much history will have to be rewritten if they downgrade February? After all, if it loses it’s status as a month, then everything that happened in February has to be redistributed to all the other months, and then all of the stuff in those months will have to be redistributed to line up with the times of year they actually happened. Do they not see that this could lead to the raveling of the time/space continuum as we now know it?

    Doomed I say. We’re all doomed. Doomed and damned by those know it all big brains who can’t be content to leave well enough alone. DOOMED!

    Run for the hills while there is still time people!

  39. MadScientist

    Why is Pluto not a planet? What are the criteria for calling something a ‘planet’? Has someone informed Clyde Tombaugh’s ghost? Why wasn’t Pluto reclassified while Clyde was around – did he say something like “over my cold dead body?” and did the IAU take it seriously and perform some sort of mid-winter ritual over Clyde’s grave? Inquiring minds want to know!

  40. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    It was funny, but no nail hit: what The Ridger says.

    Pity that the French revolution calendar system didn’t survive as well as the similarly constituted metric system. Besides a regularized calendar (I believe similar to the mentioned Shire system) IIRC they ‘decimalized’ the day into 10 hours, the new hour into 10 parts, et cetera. (The later, I believe, is why the calendar didn’t survive long.)

  41. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Laurel, is that fair, never mind in any sense testable as a fact? IIRC & AFAIU the decision was rushed precisely because the majority didn’t accept the long planned but overdue redefinition after a politically motivated last minute upheaval?! If so, the minority decision was in all likelihood done to stave off political, unprofessional, elements.

  42. Jared Lessl

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. February has 28 days only 74.25% of the time.

  43. Nemo

    Time is an illusion. Months, doubly so.


    I appreciate the humor of this but actually February’s rather short length much closer resembles the actual length of a true lunar orbit, month being a shortened version of moonth.

    You’d be right if you were talking about the sidereal month of 27.3 days, but I think a common-sense definition of month would be based on phases, and use the synodic month of 29.5 days, which is closer to 30 than to 28.

    Of course a 28-day month does have the advantage of dividing up neatly into four weeks, and 13 will fit into a year with only 1.25 days left over, but that’s about all I’ll say for it.

    As it is, we have one short month due to the vanity of Augustus. It’s way, way past time we changed that. But of course it won’t happen.

  44. StevoR

    Thanks for postinmg that BA &for the credit! 😀

    I think it makes a good case by analogy of just how ludicrous & silly the IAU’s anti-Pluto definition is.

    Here’s my list of 12 reasons why the IAU decision was wrong. (some of you may have seen these before but for those that haven’t ..) :


    1. The orbital clearing condition which is the reason for eliminating Pluto is fatally flawed because it is itself too hard to define – what is meant by “cleared” & how far from the planet must the orbit be “cleared”? Strictly speaking this eliminates any object in our solar system as all planets (except perhaps Mercury?) have objects – comets and asteroids crossing their orbits, Jupiter has Trojan asteroids, Neptune has Pluto crossing its orbit, Earth has numerous near-earth asteroids such as Eros and so forth. A consistent application of this criterion would exclude all the planets of our solar system!

    2. A reductio ad absurdum approach reveals that this criterion fails because it leads to absurd results ruling out objects we’d clearly consider planets based on their location – a Jupiter or Earth-type planet hypothetically located in the Oort cloud would be excluded yet we’d clearly still call it a planet otherwise! Why then draw the line at smaller objects that would otherwise fit the planetary description ie. rounded by their own gravity and directly orbiting the Sun? (Or their common centre of gravity for “double planets.”)

    3. In relation to forming planetary systems including historically our own, planetary orbits cross and interact in unpredictable ways. By the IAU’s “orbital clearance” criterion, these objects – even ones Jupiter sized and above – are NOT strictly planets because their orbits are not yet cleared – again failing the ‘reductio ad absurdum’ test. Eg : The earth before it was hit by the Mars-sized body that became our moon would NOT have been termed a “planet” because it had that Mars-sized object in its orbital path.

    4. From point 3 above, we see that by IAU definitions planets cannot collide because their neighbourhood then isn’t clear – nor can they exist as binaries or “double planets” by the same logic. This appears contrary to common-sense and consistency. It also has potential for creating trouble with exoplanets given the so-far hypothetical but quite probable possibility that some extrasolar planets may exist in this form – even potentially twin Neptunes or Jupiters. Given that some would describe the Earth-Moon system as well as the Pluto-Charon one as such a ‘double planet’ then a strict definition of the IAU rule may rule our Earth out of planetary status again clearly a ridiculous proposition!

    5. Inconsistency and inapplicability in regard to exoplanets – the IAU definition excluded planets of other stars. Yet surely planets orbiting other suns are no less planets for not orbiting our star! Even more tellingly, at least one of the Pulsar planets, PSR B 1257+12 e is tiny – smaller than our Moon and smaller than Pluto raising a glaring inconsistency. Given PSR1257+12 e is counted as an exoplanet then Pluto, equally, should equally count as a planet for the sake of consistency.

    6. The “dwarf planet-dwarf” star analogy – just as dwarf stars are still stars so surely are dwarf planets still planets. Extrapolating the “dwarf planets don’t count” line to stellar astronomy would imply the Sun is not a proper star nor are 99 % of all stars – those 90% on the main-sequence and the 10 % of “stellar corpses” such as white dwarfs and neutron stars. Moreover, as with stars, the smaller the object’s size the greater its numbers! Therefore calling a planet “dwarf” should NOT rule it out of being considered a proper planet.

    7. Problems with the “classical” planets term : the IAU defined “classical”; planets are restricted to our Earth’s solar system and it is hard to see how they apply to exoplanets or how the term can work usefully as a scientific description. Apart from differing immensely – Earth and Pluto are arguably far more similar worlds than Earth and Jupiter or Mercury or Neptune – they also clash with a previous understanding arguably much more apt of classical planets being those visible to the “classical” age peoples – the five original bright wanderers – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, & Saturn. If that ‘classical’ term is retained, it seems best used in this sense as a historical and descriptive sense.

    8. Sentimental, cultural and historical reasons – noting Pluto’s long-established and culturally scientific place as a recognised planet from its discovery in 1930 until its demotion in 2006. This also covers the slight to Clyde Tombaugh’s memory, widow and family plus the perceived political aspect of stripping from planetary status the sole planet discovered by an American.

    9. The undemocratic manner in which the IAU ruling was made. For instance, of the 10,000 IAU members only 2,500 attended the Prague meeting that demoted Pluto and rejected the other planetary candidates, Eris, Charon and Ceres from planetary status. Furthermore, of those 2,500 only the merest handful – just 424 actually got to vote making therefore a very unrepresentative decision. Among those to excluded from voting and arguing their case in that last minute meeting were some highly relevant and articulate people – notably Pluto expert Alan S. Stern, head of the New Horizons mission. Stern’s summary of the IAU judgement was blunt : “ … idiotic. I have nothing but ridicule for this decision.” (Alan Stern, P.28, ‘Astronomy Now’, October, 2006.)

    10. The decision to demote Pluto has had a generally negative reception from the general public and on public perceptions of astronomers.

    11. The first proposed IAU definition of ‘planet’ (that would have included Pluto, Eris and Ceres) was much better in terms of logical consistency and general application as well as being more easily explained, understand and applied – ie. two main criteria for planets are that they are objects circling a star directly which are not themselves stars or brown dwarfs and are rounded by their own gravity.

    12. Pluto is a complex world with the key aspects of planets – it dominates its own satellite system of three moons (Charon, Hydra & Nix), has its own atmosphere, has a complex geology and weather system (of nitrogen frosting based on HST images and theory) and meets all the criteria for planethood with the sole exception of the problematic and, I believe, absurd “orbital clearance” criterion.

    – Steven Raine aka StevoR

  45. Gary Ansorge

    Dwarf state, anyone?

    Gary 7
    As far as posting jokes is concerned,,,I give up,,,

  46. 1. Only if you insist on interpreting the term “clearing” to the letter and not take into account the intention. The concept is sound, it’s unfortunate the IAU worded it badly. Pluto is clearly a member of a population of similar objects at a similar distance from the Sun. None of the 8 other planets are.
    2. I’d argue that a Jupiter-size object at the distance of the Oort cloud would perhaps be better regarded as a brown dwarf anyway, given the likely methods required to form such an object at that kind of distance…
    3. Yeah well, that’s why we have the term “protoplanet”…
    4. Show me a twin Neptune or a twin Jupiter first.
    5. What’s PSR B1257+12 “e”? The planets are A, B and C (with planet A being about the size of the Earth’s moon). There is a fourth object (as far as I can tell it doesn’t have a commonly-used designation), which judging by the papers about it is regarded as cometary or asteroidal in nature, rather than planetary.
    6. So they chose a bad term for things that are fairly large but not planets. And this affects the criteria for choosing something that is a planet how?
    7. The “classical planets” proposal failed. It is irrelevant.
    8. Whatever. So you dumb Americans were stupid enough to pick an object that was merely a member of a large population of objects in the 3:2 resonance with Neptune. That’s your own fault, it’s too late to complain about it now. ;-p Anyways, last I checked you were a hundred or so planets ahead of everyone else…
    9. However Pluto’s status as a planet had been regarded as somewhat dubious before the IAU resolution was passed.
    10. So let’s throw out evolution while we’re reinstating Pluto.
    11. Actually that definition has its own problems. Particularly the not being a brown dwarf part. And as far as I am aware there have been no determinations of the shape of any of the known exoplanets…
    12. So are worlds like Titan, Ganymede, Triton, etc. but I don’t see anyone advocating for them to be planets. You say you don’t care about whether the object is located in the inner system or the Oort cloud, why should the small matter of being in orbit around a non-fusing object be a problem?

    Pluto, Eris, Ceres etc. are located in the middle of belts of similar mass objects. There is a clear distinction between them and the major planets. Pretending otherwise is ludicrous and silly.

  47. On another note, Easter should be demoted to a “dwarf holiday” as its variability is inconsistent with bona-fide holidays like New Year’s Day and Christmas.

  48. Nemo

    We need a name for the Pluto-is-too-a-planet cranks… “Plutards”?

  49. Paul

    It sounds like the sort of thing the onion would have written.

  50. matt

    Personally from my studies in astronomy and astrology, February is too a month because of the lunar cycle. There are 12 lunar cycles in the time it takes the earth to fully cycle itself around the sun. The whole calendar system we use today is based on the cycle of the moon. I could understand how Pluto could be considered not a planet anymore do to its dwarf size but if February was to be eliminated, would the extra days that were in February be added onto the other months of the year? Personally I don’t think that would work do to the fact the months of the year are based on the lunar cycle. There would be one entire lunar cycle out of whack. Would that fit into the other 11 months? Obviously, but there are 12 lunar cycles throughout 1 solar cycle so apparently the ancients knew what the were doing when they figured out all this. 12 lunar cycles, 12 months per solar cycle. so what if February has 27-28 days in it, its all about the moon. I understand that different cultures throughout the world have different calendar systems but ours seems to be the most down to earth one. Possibly the easiest for on person to understand. Well, after writing this paragraph, I had questioned something about this HEADLINE that I felt raged about and went back to the top of the page to question it again and re-read the paragraph about it and how they were not going to eliminate February only label it a dwarf month. OOOPPPPS!!! My bad. Well if they were, which their not going to, you could see my point why they shouldn’t. Maybe next time they shouldn’t have such a deceptive headline. Or maybe I should read the whole article and not jump the gun. Well the jokes on me. And you too.

  51. Chris

    I think dark energy is at work because it takes me longer and longer to change the oil.

  52. TO BE RESOLVED, BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE FIFTY-SECOND LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF QUEENSLAND, that as February passes through Queensland’s unsaved daylight time, that it be reestablished with full monthly status, and that February 20, 2009 be declared “February Day” in the State of Queensland in honour of the date of birth of the current poster, as well as that of several others from this thread.

  53. Corey

    I think this is just ridiculous I mean does it really matter that much that february has 28 days instead of 30 or 31 I mean just because you got pluto to no longer be a planet doesn’t mean you get to toy with are months! P.S. what will the groundhog do now that his holiday is gone?

  54. Ted

    I saw Neil deGrasse Tyson speak about this 2 weeks ago, so it’s pretty fresh for me.

    About month lengths: check out the Persian calendar for comparison: months between vernal and autumnal equinox have 31 days, months between autumnal (northern) and vernal have 30 days each. This handles the astronomical problem of having the months correspond to approximately 30 degrees of solar transit along the ecliptic, which would otherwise not deal with the aphelion half of the year very well. The equivalent month to February drops a day to be 29 days except in leap years, which occur in 8 out of every 33 years (365.2424 days per year on average, more accurate than the Gregorian calendar).

    About Pluto: Tyson’s key point is that the category of planet is effectively meaningless if it includes everything from Mercury to Jupiter (in size and composition). It makes more sense to talk about terrestrial bodies, gas giants, Kuiper belt objects (and maybe the subcategory of Trans-Neptunal bodies, in gravitational resonance).

    After all, the original definition of planet included the Sun, the Moon, and Ceres and several other inter-Mars-Jupiter bodies that were later redefined as asteroids. So the category has been redefined before.

    His opinion is that the only reason Americans are so emotional about Pluto is because of the Disney character. If you don’t learn Greek mythology early (as I and my kids have), then the only familiar name when learning the traditional 9 is Pluto, the dog from the cartoons. So there is some emotional attachment. His other point is that we shouldn’t let a grade school mnemonic form the rational for scientific categorization. A true scientist is open to evidence and is capable of changing his/her opinion if new facts emerge, as they have with Pluto/Charon (more of a double planet to me — the CM of the system is between them!).

  55. Nemo

    I doubt the Disney angle, but certainly many people seem to have an emotional reaction to the issue that’s deeply irrational.

    As I’ve said before, I think you can draw up plausible criteria either way. I tend to favor excluding Pluto. But mostly, I think that the sensible reaction, on hearing of Pluto’s demotion, would be to think “Really? Huh,” and promptly get on with your life.

    It probably doesn’t help that this came up at a time when open contempt for the authority of science — in forms such as creationism, anti-vax, global warming denial, etc. — seems to be at a high point. “Why should astronomers get to say what a planet is?” is a sentiment that fits in perfectly in a world that asks “Why should biologists get to say whether evolution happened?”.

  56. Anonymous

    I’ve always been in favor of a calendar with 13 months that has 28 days each, then giving ourselves 1 to 2 extra days per year as deemed necessary in order to keep the calendar in balance. If you think the QWERTY keyboard is a relic of the past, the Gregorian calendar deserved to be in the dustbin long ago!

  57. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    IIRC & AFAIU the decision was rushed precisely because the majority didn’t accept the long planned but overdue redefinition after a politically motivated last minute upheaval?!

    Appears I was talking out of my behind on this one, see Marco Longbroek’s commentary on the plutocrat thread. (Thanks, Marco!) I’m not up to checking this after yesterdays night out, so I’ll accept it for the time being.

    But anyhoe, the politics seems indeed to have been on the pluto pushers side.

  58. maudyfish

    I agree……….Anonymous!!! Then February can stay in the group, quitely doing its thing. Never bothering anyone to begin with. Just a bunch of outlaws trying to change the norm!!

  59. maudyfish

    Have you ever heard of “The Baker’s Dozen”?

  60. While we’re at renaming and redefining, I have a book by C. David Parsons (who terms himself a “Biblical Scholar and Scientist Extraordinaire.”) The book is Quest for Right and is the first volume of seven. Parsons thinks that Darwinists, atheists and pagans have undue influence over science education so he re-rewrote everything.

    For example, the planets being named after pagan gods and goddesses should all be renamed. Here are the names of the planets in order of proximity to the sun.

    1. Tether 2. Braker 3. Earth 4. Ruler 5. Controller 6. Occupier 7. Preventer 8. Exerciser and YES! 9. Restrainer

    Restrainer remains a planet despite those nasty dawinians at the IAU because it is necessary for the calendar.

  61. Nemo

    Wow, those names are horrible.

    It is pretty funny that our planets are named for gods that no one believes in any more. Our calendar is even more messed up — weekdays named for Norse gods, plus the Sun and Moon; months named for Roman gods and emperors (or just numbered in Latin, with numbers that no longer match their positions in the year), and arranged by said emperors; and years retroactively dated to the birth of an ancient Jewish preacher from near the time of those emperors. None of these elements makes much sense.

  62. Nemo

    P.S. I forgot about Saturday — so we have Norse and Roman gods mixed up just in the names of weekdays.

    Parsons’ names certainly seem to say something about his character, don’t they? I’d say his god is not the god of love.

  63. Leroy

    I can see right through this, it is a Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy along with the skinheads, arian nationals and nazis to further distance themselves from the concept that all men are created equal. After exhaustive research (OK, I googled it) I have come to the conclusion that this is a direct attack on Black History Month, you may say that it is only celebrated in the USA but that point is invalid since we all know that the USA is about 90% of the planet so this is exactly what it looks like… A GLOBAL CONSPIRACY!!! And what about Mardi Gras??? hu??? it is also a fundamental attack on our right to binge and be merry!! I say LEAVE FEBRUARY ALONE!! or make it a party month, that will also get you off the hook. Enough said.

  64. SkepTTic

    Don’t diss February! That’s MY month! I like being born in a unique month, unlike all those other lame-ass 30 and 31 day months!

  65. Davidlpf

    The weather sucks for this month get rid of it like so much rubbish.

  66. n5bb

    A lot of sites have been copying this without good attribution. I’m not an astronomer (although I bought and used a telescope when I was a kid), but I’m surprised that nobody seems to care that the IAU President is listed incorrectly.

    “Ron Eckers” must be referring to Ron Ekers.

    He is NOT the current IAU President – he had that position three years ago, but in Aug 2006 Dr. Catherine Cesarsky was elected to replace him from 2006-2009.

    She is the first woman to win this position.

    The comedy site GCFL say they received this story on January 20, 2009, from “Michael Haber”. But it appears to have been written nearly 3 years ago (Aug 2006, when Ron Ekers was at the end of his term and the IAU made their decision concerning Pluto).

    The story is funny, but I hate to see someone’s name spread around so broadly with nobody evidently attempting to confirm the spelling or the true IAU President at this time. Phil, at least Google the names before posting such stuff! This item on your site has now spread this misinformation to many other blogs.

  67. JB of Brisbane

    Does anyone remember the old proposal for the World Calendar? I remember reading about it in an old How And Why Wonder Book. This was supposed to fix up the one remaining “deficiency” of the Gregorian Calendar, namely the fact that each date advances by one day of the week each year (and two days for each year following a February 29).
    Instead of having seven months with thirty-one days, four months with thirty and one month with twenty-eight or twenty-nine days, the World Calendar had eight months with thirty days and four months with thirty-one (total days so far = 364), plus an extra day called “Worldsday” added in between Sunday December 31 and Monday January 1. This allowed each date to fall on the same weekday each year. Of course, in leap years another day, called Leap Year’s Day, was to be added in between June 31 (yes, you read that correctly) and July 1. As the book pointed out, one advantage of this was that Christmas fell on a Monday every year – hey, long weekend everyone!
    One downside of this is that there would have to be some sort of conversion chart, using numbered days of the year, for everyone to work out when their birthday really falls by the new calendar.

  68. nice! we should also change the name earth andchange it to… february

  69. Nemo

    I like the way dates roll through the weekdays, and dislike calendars that propose to fix this. Hard to believe that’s the only deficiency someone would see in the calendar, though.

  70. Original source had to be The Onion.

  71. unnuagedecole

    I’m ok with Feb :)
    But for some reason not into March :

    Can we erase March as a month – at all, and skip right to April ?
    Seriously, let alone personal vendetta for unknown concentration of March catastrophies each year, March is a ridiculously long craving for Spring month.

    Otherwise, some of us could do with cancelling Mondays.
    Think about it:
    +/- 4 Mondays a month minus one per February
    equals +/- 50 new days a year

    i.e a a possible new non-March month at hand!
    not mentionning extra possible days available for no more dwarf February…

  72. Torbjörn Larsson, OM – my understanding is that the majority indeed didn’t like the definition that the Planet Definition Committee came up with, and that the final version that was accepted reflected both the majority view and the haste with which it was created.

    Again, as I understand it, the PDC’s version wasn’t politically motivated – more that they didn’t spend that long on it either, and the Exec Cttee (or maybe Ekers) wanted to minimise publicity so the PDC couldn’t consult widely.

    If there’s a lesson from all this it’s that professional bodies (like sporting ones) are as bad at publicity as they are at organisation. In that light the accusation that the IAU are a bunch of faceless bureaucrats is ironic. Faceless bureaucrats know how to manipulate the media and get key people on-side. Scientists don’t.

  73. RL

    What? Seventy-plus posts and not one mention of the loss of Valentine’s Day? Wow.

  74. Robert Carnegie

    February is 28 days 75.75% of the time surely? Every three in four years plus every three in four centuries.

    February being removed, this -is- April 1st. Or close enough. Got your tax worked out?

    Not everything as funny as The Onion actually is in The Onion. I mean, there isn’t a patent, or The Daily Show would be in trouble (I presume they’re -not- connected?) I forget whether Onion writers get to have names.

  75. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Vagueofgodalming, thanks for the info!

  76. Uragan

    I’ve been feeling this way for long now!
    Stupid lazy February….

    Lets say you run a marathon… If you die ten meters away from the finishing line, you’re still not done…. therefore – 28 days – no month.

    but Pluto is still a planet! A retarded one, but still a planet

  77. lousy_browser

    definitely sounds like an onion article… onion is the best!

  78. kristy

    Way funny material here folks. Putting education to good use; critical thinking at it’s funniest.

    As long as we’re at changing the calenders….could we please put Sat & Sun at the same end of the printed calenders, so it would be easier to plot out our weekend plans ? (or work for some of us)

    @reply to the 28 day month proposals.
    (1) Would my b-day be on a Thursday every year ??

    (2) Would those of us with XX chromosomes, be PMSing and ovulating the same days/week every single month ???

    Isn’t that a scary thought ?!?!?!? LOLOL

  79. Robin

    I’ve always argued for renaming the days:
    Monday becomes Onesday
    Tuesday, Twosday
    Wednesday (which nobody can spell anyway), Threesday
    Thursday, Foursday
    Friday, Fivesday
    see they even sound kind of the same in most cases.

  80. Ron

    For all the danger February may be in regarding its status as a month, Rhode Island might do well to worry about being reclassified as a dwarf state!

  81. Lex

    You got the whole female population that says “If 28 days isn’t a month then they’re late”.

  82. Sarah

    This is stupid. It’s clearly mocking a reasonable statement by astronomers.

  83. Michael Haber

    Hai guise, so i herd u liek mudkipz?

  84. Micheal Haber

    I AM THE ALL POWERFUL HABER IN WHICH YOU SPEAK. just as i have robbed these cursed February and Pluto of their identity i will do so to the “MTV” it is no longer a television station but a means of suicide on the account of airing “hustle and flow” at this very moment

  85. Me, Myself nor I

    Massachusetts, Oregon and Arizona should be considered to be dwarf-states, as they joined the US in a dwarf month. Also, in the countries in the world where they have a summer time (1 hour time difference in the summer), there should be one day considered as a dwarf-day, and one day as a giant day.
    Also, single track railways should be considered as dwarfrailways, just like cycleroads should be dwarfroads, bungalows should be dwarfhouses, and the Fiat Panda should be degraded from ‘car’ to dwarfcar, or preferrably (@jeff dunham) a lunchbox on wheels.

  86. tj

    Yep. Makes sense. This was the same reason Dennis Kucinich was declared not to be a real presidential candidate.

  87. Tom

    It’s simply a matter of natural selection. February is the weakest, so good-bye you ugly runt-month!

  88. firehorse

    section 61 magna carta unbecome yourself from this charade

  89. Jim

    Seems just about anything that could be said has been but I will carry on. We need a new calendar with 13 28 day months and the 1st Monday always the 1st. Think of the paper it would save with only one page used all year. The extra days to make up the year or leap year would be holidays with no day of week designation to foul up the calender.

  90. Michael Haber

    I’m delighted you liked this, and I love the reactions here! I’m Michael Haber, the author in question. I wrote this while bored at work one afternoon, and sent it out to a couple of friends who were as irritated as I was about the whole Pluto debacle. One of them encouraged me to send it into a joke website, so I did. I grew up loving astronomy, which led me to pursue a physics major in college. The “dwarf planet” definition is spurious at best, in my humble opinion. Humor seemed to be my best option for voicing that :)

  91. Jake

    @ AJ

    No, it’s not eminent, it’s imminent. He was talking about imminent domain. Next time you want to seem like a pretentious bastard, make sure you’re right.

    Like I am.

  92. MB


  93. I am totally outraged and it Jim Binkley’s fault. First, he Cast Doubt on the existence of the northwest Yeti (Sasquatch) and then
    he supports the abolition of Pluto and now leads the efforts to ban February. Not that I think it is necessarily a bad idea, but
    this is America and, traditionally, we vote on such things.

    Jim says it is positively Ron Eckles, not Eckels.


  94. I hear they are moving the weekend to the middle of the week also.

  95. Morton Klotz

    What do we do about Rhode Island, which is obviously too small to be a state?

  96. @ ^ Morton Klotz : Indeed. Then there’s Singapore, Monaco and Luxembourg which are clearly too small to be nations too! 😉

    A nation counts as a nation no matter how small it is and the same should apply for planets too!


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