PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - The controversy over whether Pluto should be considered a planet came to an unexpected end today as the International Astronomical Union admitted that they had, in fact, destroyed the distant sphere.
The revelation came in response to the efforts of astronomer Dr. Weston Smythe, who grew suspicious when he was unable to find Pluto during his regular stargazing. "The first time I called the IAU, all they did was mutter something about Pluto not being visible with the naked eye. A likely story. It's just like those smug, hoity-toity pompadours with their closed minds and their... er, sorry. I'm still a little bitter that they kicked me out. The nerve of them, with their mental blinders and their fancy stationery and... ahem.
"Anyway, when I still couldn't find Pluto several days later, I knew something was up. I was sure the IAU knew something about it, so I called them again. They laughed me off, saying there was nothing I could do to make them talk. But then I started an internet petition about it. You can bet they changed their tune after that."
IAU President Catherine J. Cesarsky spoke to This Just In to explain the reasons for the decision. "As you know, the question of whether Pluto should remain an official planet was causing great controversy. Well, you might not know. You publish what, two articles a year?" On being informed that we do, in fact, read other newspapers, Dr. Cesarsky continued, "The point is that it led to a lot of very boring strife. After a week of debating it at the General Assembly, we were just so sick of the whole thing.
"That's when we realized how much simpler it would be to just destroy Pluto. We never liked it all that much -- our relationship with it has been plutonic at best. It's undersized, its orbit is absurd, and it has the gall to switch places with Neptune for years at a time. Besides, have you heard of the music of the spheres? Just before we lost contact with Pioneer 10 near Pluto's orbit, we heard what sounded vaguely like 'Hollaback Girl'. There are theories that this is why we lost contact.
"With all this on our minds and alcohol in our bloodstreams, we took out a contract on Pluto to settle the debate forever. It was the perfect solution... or it would have been if that meddling Smythe had stayed out of it. Oh, don't let him fool you, he's no hero. This is the man who nearly started a worldwide panic with his madcap theory that the universe was about to be destroyed. He fired his own son off in a rocket to 'save' him! If it hadn't crashed over Kansas, Smythe would've been put away for infanticide. The nerve of him, with his fancy petitions and his pompadours and..." This reporter cut his losses here.
Responsible for the actual demolition was blogger Frank J, longtime proponent of nuking the moon. "As I've always said, gotta nuke something. I'm glad the IAU finally had the courage to do so." On the mechanics of delivering a nuke to the outer solar system, Mr. J was reluctant to give details, specifying only that "It was really hard. Except the part where Aquaman tried to stop me, claiming that there could conceivably be fish frozen in the ice of Pluto, and I beat him around for a while. That was easy."
The revelation of Pluto's destruction has pleased some groups and angered others. "The other IAU is furious -- that's the International Astrological Union," explained Dr. Cesarsky. "They're saying that by destroying Pluto, we've made all their detailed formulas and calculations worthless. Apparently they'll have to work everything out again. To save them the trouble, we've sent them a box of magic 8-balls; according to the latest studies, using those to decide what predictions to make should improve their accuracy.
"On the other hand, this got the Eight is Enough Foundation off our back. They're a fundamentalist group who had been trying to get Pluto's planet status revoked for years, on the grounds that its orbit was too eccentric. Recently they'd taken to picketing observatories, carrying 'Eden was a utopia, not a Plutopia' signs."
As always, this latest news has provoked reactions from various sources we chose more or less at random.
"At least this means people will finally stop calling Pluto a 'mickey mouse planet'," observed animated rodent Mickey Mouse. "Yessir, you're definitely the first person ever to think of that one." Colleague Donald Duck squawked his incomprehensible agreement.
"I'm confused," said actress Jackie Thomas. "Didn't Pluto get eaten? Or was that something else? I have a simply dreadful memory for these things. But if we did blow it up, I'm not bothered -- it was a rather twee planet anyway. And being able to destroy things that far off is smashing!" This reporter would like to note that while Ms. Thomas is hot, her British accent is more fake than a printed quote can possibly convey.
"WE DON'T CARE HOW MANY OF YOUR PLANETS YOU DESTROY, YOU'RE NOT GETTING EUROPA," intoned a mysterious race of monolith-planting extraterrestrials.
"Pluto was actually pretty tough," commented super fighting robot Mega Man. "If you want pathetic, try Neptune. All he did was throw globs of water at me. How do you even make throwable globs of water?"
"The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force," warned Sith Lord Darth Vader. "And the ability to destroy Pluto is even more insignificant. I could have destroyed Pluto with my little finger. And then I would have turned to Neptune and said 'I am altering your orbit. Pray I don't alter it any further.'"
"Pluto got sent to Hades? Oh, Dis!" remarked ancient historian Mark "Scooter" Wilson. Smartass.
On the fallout of the IAU's actions, Dr. Cesarsky was optimistic. "We're not expecting any trouble. Space is international territory, so we haven't destroyed anyone's property. A few malcontents like Smythe may call this wanton destruction, but we see it as one more giant leap for mankind. We've expanded the frontiers of explodology and struck a blow against plutocrats everywhere. We're quite satisfied."
"Oh, unless you meant fallout as in actual debris," added Dr. Cesarsky. "In which case, word of advice: on August 3, 2009, stay indoors."