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Keyword: pluto

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  • An Unknown Planet Orbits in the Outer Solar System

    08/05/2007 6:22:36 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 58 replies · 1,200+ views
    A theory is hereby proposed that an unknown mega-massive planet has, for billions of years, been orbiting at 77.2 AU from the sun -- within a 44 AU-wide, virtually empty Great Void that surrounds the Kuiper Belt (One AU = 93 million miles, the mean Earth-Sun distance). The Void is postulated to have been formed by strong gravitational attraction of the unknown planet having removed all CKBOs (Classical Kuiper Belt Objects) that had existed previously in the vicinity of the massive planet's huge orbit... The 77.2 AU distance from the sun of the proposed unknown planet is derived from a...
  • New planet nicknamed after Biden

    03/26/2014 10:15:21 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 41 replies
    The Hill's Briefing Room ^ | March 26, 2014 | Justin Sink
    Astronomers have nicknamed a new dwarf planet circling the sun at the outer edges of the solar system after Vice President Joe Biden. According to Nature, a leading scientific journal, the object's official designation is 2012 VP113. But the team studying its orbit around the sun colloquially refer to the planet as just "VP" or "Biden," after the sitting vice president. The object won't carry an official title until scientists collect more data. After determining its orbit, they'll submit a formal name to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for consideration. The Biden dwarf is the second such object to be...
  • The Obama Legacy in Planetary Exploration

    01/06/2014 9:19:21 AM PST · by Farnsworth · 28 replies ^ | January 04, 2014 | Mark V. Sykes
    It is frustrating, at a time when other nations are in ascendancy in space, that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama seems committed to undermining the nation's own solar system exploration program. The Obama administration cut NASA's planetary-sciences budget by 20 percent in 2013. It has taken the National Research Council's (NRC) recommendations for prioritizing planetary investments in bad economic times and turned those recommendations upside down. The administration continues to favor large, directed projects at the expense of programs and missions that are openly competed.
  • Venetia Burney, the 11 year old girl who named Pluto

    12/07/2013 5:10:59 PM PST · by lee martell · 22 replies
    Dec. 7 2013 | Lee Martell
    This writing was inspired by a FR article from yesterday about a new planet that has been discovered, and has not been named yet. I started reading about the other planet name orgins and came across the story of Venetia Burney. You may already know of her. On March 14, 1930, 11 year old Venetia and her family were eating breakfast at their home in Oxford England, discussing the biggest news of the day; the discovery of a new planet. Venetia's grandfather, Falconer Madan, retired head an Oxford library read to her from the London Times;. "New Planet; Discovery by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto's Newly Discovered Moons Receive Names

    07/08/2013 6:15:08 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 29 replies
    NASA ^ | July 08, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Pluto's newly discovered moons now have names. Known previously as P4 and P5, the International Astronomical Union has now given the fourth and fifth discovered moons of Pluto the names Kerberos and Styx. The small moons were discovered in 2011 and 2012 by the Hubble Space Telescope in preparation for the close passing of the New Horizons spacecraft by Pluto in 2015. Kerberos is named for the many headed dog in Greek mythology that guards the entrance to the underworld, while Styx is named for the goddess who overlooks the mythological river that runs between the Earth and the...
  • Pluto moons get mythical new names

    07/03/2013 1:48:38 AM PDT · by SoFloFreeper · 15 replies
    BBC ^ | 7/2/13
    The recently discovered fourth and fifth moons of Pluto now have official names: Kerberos and Styx. The International Astronomical Union (IAU), charged with making official name designations, stipulates in its rules that names derive from mythology. The names - referring to a three-headed dog and a river separating the living from the dead, ranked second and third in an international public vote. The winning submission, Vulcan, was vetoed by the IAU. The two moons, formerly known simply as P4 and P5, were only discovered in July 2011 and July 2012, respectively.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Humanity Explores the Solar System

    04/30/2013 5:10:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | April 30, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What spacecraft is humanity currently using to explore our Solar System? Presently, every inner planet has at least one robotic explorer, while several others are monitoring our Sun, some are mapping Earth's Moon, a few are chasing asteroids and comets, one is orbiting Saturn, and several are even heading out into deep space. The above illustration gives more details, with the inner Solar System depicted on the upper right and the outer Solar System on the lower left. Given the present armada, our current epoch might become known as the time when humanity first probed its own star system....
  • Archaeologists uncover ancient 'gate to hell' in Turkey

    04/02/2013 12:51:11 PM PDT · by illiac · 22 replies
    MSN News ^ | 4/2/13 | MSNNews
    An ancient cave known as the 'gate to hell' in Greco-Roman mythology has reportedly been discovered in southwestern Turkey. The ruins of the "gate to hell," an ancient cave to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology, have been discovered in Turkey, Italian archaeologists have announced. The cave, also known as Pluto's Gate, was uncovered in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now known as the city of Pamukkale, in southwestern Turkey.
  • Pluto's 'Gate to Hell' uncovered in Turkey

    04/02/2013 1:36:33 PM PDT · by Beowulf9 · 35 replies
    www.iTech ^ | April , 2013 | Pierre Dumont
    Italian archaeologists have uncovered Pluto's Gate, the so-called "gate to hell," in southwestern Turkey. In Greco-Roman mythology the cave was considered the portal to the underworld. It was found in the ancient ruins of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, and was described by Cicero and the Greek geographer Strabo in their writings. According to Strabo, the opening was filled with deadly vapors. "This space is full of vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death," Strabo wrote. "I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell...
  • 'Vulcan' Leads Poll To Name Pluto's Moon

    02/24/2013 11:02:41 AM PST · by EveningStar · 31 replies
    Trek News ^ | February 24, 2013 | Staff
    'Vulcan' could be the name of Pluto's recently discovered moons. The name, which Star Trek fans will know as Spock's home planet, is currently leading an online poll which could decide one of the two 20-30km moons discovered by the Hubble telescope between 2011 and 2012.
  • NASA's Hubble Discovers Another Moon Around Pluto

    07/20/2011 8:14:18 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 34 replies ^ | 7/20/2011 9:00 AM EDT | Staff
    Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a fourth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The tiny, new satellite -- temporarily designated P4 -- was uncovered in a Hubble survey searching for rings around the dwarf planet. The new moon is the smallest discovered around Pluto. It has an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles (13 to 34 km). By comparison, Charon, Pluto's largest moon, is 648 miles (1,043 km) across, and the other moons, Nix and Hydra, are in the range of 20 to 70 miles in diameter (32 to 113 km). "I find it remarkable that...
  • Astronomers Find a New Planet in Solar System

    07/29/2005 3:35:26 PM PDT · by Right Wing Professor · 114 replies · 6,752+ views
    The New York Times ^ | 7/29/05 | KENNETH CHANG
    Add a 10th planet to the solar system - or possibly subtract one. Astronomers announced today that they have found a lump of rock and ice that is larger than Pluto and the farthest known object in the solar system. The discovery will likely rekindle debate over the definition of "planet" and whether Pluto should still be regarded as one. The new object - as yet unnamed - is currently 9 billion miles away from the Sun, or about three times Pluto's current distance from the Sun. But its 560-year orbit also brings it as close as 3.3 billion miles....
  • Having Pups Over Pluto And The Planetary Misfits Of The Kuipers

    03/12/2003 5:27:54 PM PST · by RightWhale · 10 replies · 320+ views ^ | 12 Mar 03 | Robert Sanders
    Having Pups Over Pluto And The Planetary Misfits Of The Kuipers Ask any kid how many planets are in our solar system, and you'll get a firm answer: nine. But knock on a few doors in Berkeley's astronomy department, and you'll hear, amid the hemming and hawing, a whole range of numbers. Professor Gibor Basri, who plans soon to propose a formal definition of a planet to the international body that names astronomical objects, argues that there are at least 14 planets, and perhaps as many as 20. To the well-known list of nine he adds several large asteroids and...
  • 2 Pluto Moons in Need of Devilish Names

    02/12/2013 11:05:53 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 62 replies
    ap ^ | Feb 11, 2013 1:03 PM CST
    Astronomers announced a contest today to name the two itty-bitty moons of Pluto discovered over the past two years. Three Pluto moons already have names associated with Hades and the underworld: Charon, the ferryman of Hades; the half-human, half-fish spirit Nix; and the multi-headed monster Hydra. The two unnamed moons need similarly shady references. Right now, they go by the bland titles of P4 and P5. They're no more than 15 to 20 miles across. Online voting will last two weeks. Twelve choices are available at,
  • Astronomers Find a New "Minor Planet" near Neptune

    08/18/2008 12:16:43 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 24 replies · 234+ views
    Universe Today ^ | 8/18/08 | Nancy Atkinson
    Orbit of solar system object SQ372 (blue) compared with the orbits of Neptune Pluto and Sedna (white, green, red). Credit: N. Kaib. Astronomers announced today that a new "minor planet" with an unusual orbit has been found just two billion miles from Earth, closer than Neptune. Using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, astronomers detected a small, comet-like object called 2006 SQ372, which is likely made of rock and ice. However, its orbit never brings it close enough to the sun for it to develop a tail. Its unusual orbit is an ellipse that is four times longer than it...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Fifth Moon Discovered Orbiting Pluto

    07/16/2012 3:14:30 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 29 replies
    NASA ^ | July 16, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A fifth moon has been discovered orbiting Pluto. The moon was discovered earlier this month in images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in preparation for the New Horizons mission's scheduled flyby of Pluto in 2015. Pictured above, the moon is currently seen as only a small blip that moves around the dwarf planet as the entire system slowly orbits the Sun. The moon, given a temporary designation of S/2012 (134340) 1 or just P5 (as labeled), is estimated to span about 15 kilometers and is likely composed mostly of water-ice. Pluto remains the only famous Solar System body...
  • Hubble Telescope Spies Fifth Moon Around Pluto

    07/11/2012 4:48:24 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 19 replies
    AP) ^ | July 11, 2012 10:30 AM
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — There’s something lurking around distant and icy dwarf planet Pluto: a fifth moon. A team of scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope said Wednesday they have discovered the tiniest moon yet around Pluto. That brings the number of known moons to five. The mini-moon is estimated to be 6 to 15 miles across, smaller than the one that scientists spotted last year, which is 8 to 21 miles wide. Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, is about 650 miles across. Until the newly found moon gets a name, it will be known as P5.
  • Pluto's moons offer clues to extrasolar planets around dual-star systems

    06/30/2012 1:36:13 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    Bioscholar ^ | Thursday, June 21st, 2012 | unattributed
    Pluto and its partner moon Charon are helping scientists figure out where to look for planets that circle two parent stars. The frozen duo, which orbits about 40 times as far away from the sun as Earth, balance a brood of at least three smaller moons, Nix, Hydra and a newly discovered body, designated P4, that flies between the two. The whole system takes up less room than the span between Earth and our moon, providing a delicate orbital ballet that has implications for finding planets around dual-star systems beyond the solar system. New Horizons probe will test computer simulations...
  • Just A Three Year Cruise Left Before Pluto Flyby

    04/19/2012 12:23:56 PM PDT · by robowombat · 9 replies
    SPX ^ | Jan 20, 2012 | Alan Stern
    Just A Three Year Cruise Left Before Pluto Flyby by Alan Stern for PI Perspective Boulder CO (SPX) Jan 20, 2012 The data New Horizons sends back - maps, spectra, plasma data, radio science and more - will provide a detailed view of Pluto and its system of moons. Our knowledge of Pluto will literally expand from a single fact sheet's worth of information, to textbook-length tomes. Today - as we mark the sixth anniversary of our launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on January 19, 2006 - New Horizons remains healthy and on course, now more than...
  • Astronomers Predict That Pluto Has A Ring

    08/08/2011 6:20:20 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 21 replies
    MIT Technology Review ^ | 08-08-2011 | Staff
    Dust from Pluto's satellites ought to form a faint ring around the dwarf planet, according to new calculations Until recently, the only ring in the Solar System was Saturn's. But in 1960s and 70s, astronomers discovered rings around Uranus and Neptune. Meanwhile, the Voyager 1spacecraft sent back images of Jupiter's ring. To be sure, these rings are much less impressive than Saturn's but the implications are clear: rings seem much more common than astronomers once thought. Perhaps they are even the norm. And that raises an interesting question: could Pluto possibly have a ring? The observational evidence is that Pluto...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto's P4

    07/22/2011 9:48:37 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | July 22, 2011 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Nix and Hydra were first introduced to human eyes in Hubble Space Telescope images from May 2005, as Pluto's second and third known moons. Now Hubble images have revealed a fourth satellite for the icy, dwarf planet. Provisionally designated P4, it completes an orbit of Pluto in about 31 days. Presently Pluto's smallest and dimmest known moon, P4 is estimated to be 13 to 34 kilometers across. The newly discovered satellite was first spotted in Hubble observations from June 28, and later confirmed in a follow-up on July 3 and July 18. These two panels are composites of both...
  • Hubble Discovers a New Moon Around Pluto

    07/20/2011 3:23:56 PM PDT · by MikeD · 26 replies ^ | July 20, 2011 | Tony Phillips
    Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered a fourth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The tiny, new satellite – temporarily designated P4 -- popped up in a Hubble survey searching for rings around the dwarf planet. The new moon is the smallest discovered around Pluto. It has an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles (13 to 34 km). By comparison, Charon, Pluto's largest moon, is 648 miles (1,043 km) across, and the other moons, Nix and Hydra, are in the range of 20 to 70 miles in diameter (32 to 113 km). "I find it remarkable...
  • Branson buys Pluto, reinstates as planet

    04/01/2011 2:16:33 PM PDT · by EveningStar · 20 replies ^ | April 1, 2011
    Richard Branson has bought Pluto and intends to have it reinstated as a planet. Sir Richard Branson is setting his sights on the final frontier in his latest business venture announced today.
  • Night Sky Query

    01/30/2011 12:40:30 PM PST · by Cletus.D.Yokel · 46 replies
    Another stinkin vanity from Cletus | Star Date 2799.33 | Duh...
    Okay, you FR sky watchers, what is the very bright planet I see each morning as I make my way into the city of Chicago? It is in the SE sky. Just asking and yes, I've checked Uranus...
  • Brian Marsden dies at 73; astronomer who tracked comets and asteroids

    11/20/2010 7:53:58 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 9 replies
    LATimes ^ | 11/20/10 | Thomas H. Maugh
    Astronomer Brian G. Marsden, a comet and asteroid tracker who stood sentinel to protect the Earth from collisions with interplanetary rocks and other remnants of the solar system's creation, died Thursday of cancer at Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington, Mass. He was 73. Director emeritus of the Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., Marsden was perhaps best known for his 1998 announcement that an asteroid known as 1997 XF11 might strike the Earth in 2028, causing untold damage. The announcement sparked additional studies which quickly showed that such an impact was unlikely. Marsden,...
  • Blushing Pluto? Dwarf planet takes on a ruddier hue: NASA

    02/04/2010 5:24:12 PM PST · by decimon · 22 replies · 536+ views
    AFP ^ | Feb 4, 2010 | Unknown
    WASHINGTON (AFP) – Pluto, the dwarf planet on the outer edge of our solar system, has a dramatically ruddier hue than it did just a few years ago, NASA scientists said Thursday, after examining photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. They said the distant orb appears mottled and molasses-colored in recent pictures, with a markedly redder tone that most likely is the result of surface ice melting on Pluto's sunlit pole and then refreezing on the other pole. The remarkable color shift, which apparently took place between 2000 and 2002, confirms that Pluto is a dynamic world undergoing dramatic...
  • Planet Definition Doesn't Apply Beyond Solar System

    01/27/2010 4:35:50 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies · 595+ views
    Discovery News ^ | Tuesday, January 26, 2010 | Ray Villard
    According to a strict interpretation of the IAU definition of a planet we're stuck with eight major planets in the entire galaxy. No, wait, the entire freaking universe! No more, no less. Not ever, not never. Why? Because the IAU definition ignores the over 400 planets to date that have been found orbiting other stars. This month alone 25 new exoplanets were announced at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington D.C. The dirty little secret is that the Pluto-antagonists needed the vote of the exoplanet research community to pass their Pluto-is-not-a-planet resolution. Therefore they steered clear of...
  • Hubble is back, and it's seeing fine [ignore the shilling for Mikulski]

    09/09/2009 6:16:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies · 766+ views
    Nature 'blogs ^ | Wednesday, September 9, 2009 | Mark Peplow
    ...the iconic orbiting observatory is working just fine after its May upgrade which saw it get new batteries, gyroscopes and and a thorough overhaul of its instruments. It also got a new camera and a new spectrograph from the astronauts who spent five days under Hubble's hood. The upgrade, almost certain to be Hubble's last, should keep it producing tip-top images until 2014... Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said that the telescope is "significantly more powerful than ever, well-equipped to last into the next decade." According to NASA, future observations will range from "studying the population...
  • Is Pluto a planet after all?

    08/03/2009 8:52:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 37 replies · 2,747+ views
    New Scientist ^ | July 27, 2009 | Stephen Battersby
    Three years ago, the IAU decided to draw up the first scientific definition of the term planet. After days of stormy arguments at its general assembly in Prague, the delegates voted for a definition that excluded Pluto, downgrading it to the new category of dwarf planet. The decision caused outrage among many members of the public who had grown up with nine planets, and among some astronomers who pointed out that only 4 per cent of the IAU's 10,000 members took part in the vote. The governors of Illinois saw the decision as a snub to Pluto's discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh,...
  • Venetia Phair Dies at 90; as a girl, She Named Pluto

    05/13/2009 4:10:19 PM PDT · by nickcarraway · 16 replies · 2,422+ views
    Los Angeles Times ^ | May 11, 2009
    At age 11, the keen student of mythology suggested naming the newly discovered planet after the Roman god of the underworld.Venetia Phair, who was 11 years old when she suggested Pluto as the name of the newly discovered planet, has died in England. She was 90. She died at home in Epsom, south of London, on April 30, her family said. The cause of death was not disclosed. Phair suggested the name to her grandfather at breakfast in 1930. "My grandfather, as usual, opened the paper, The Times, and in it he read that a new planet had been discovered....
  • Vanity: Orlando Sentinel endorses Barack Obama for president

    10/19/2008 10:16:33 PM PDT · by smokingfrog · 5 replies · 431+ views
    The United States is fighting two wars. The financial system is in crisis. Fewer Americans can afford to excercise their right to visit the magic kingdom. The terrorists behind the worst-ever attack on U.S. soil are regaining strength. The Pirates of the Caribbian have formed new alliances. The cost of propping up the economy will propel the federal budget deficit from the stratosphere into deep space, where not even Wall-E can save it. Mr. McCain has even attempted to prevent my fellow citizens of the Magic Kingdom from voting in this historic election. Americans badly need a leader who can...
  • Pluto Now Called a Plutoid

    06/11/2008 11:36:15 PM PDT · by Westlander · 13 replies · 63+ views ^ | 6-11-2008 | Robert Roy Britt
    The International Astronomical Union has decided on the term "plutoid" as a name for Pluto and other objects that just two years ago were redefined as "dwarf planets."
  • Did Pluto Take a Punch? [from 2003]

    05/12/2008 9:30:55 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies · 137+ views
    Sky & Telescope ^ | July 23, 2003 | Govert Schilling
    If David J. Tholen (University of Hawaii) is right, Pluto was probably hit by a small Kuiper Belt object in the not-too-distant past. One consequence of that collision, he argues, is seen in the planet's motion -- Pluto and its satellite Charon now waltz around each other in slightly out-of-round orbits. And since tidal forces in the tight planet-moon system should damp out any deviations from purly circular orbits within 10 million years or so, the impact must have occurred relatively recently. "It could have happened a century ago," Tholen says... Tholen and Marc W. Buie (Lowell Observatory)... found an...
  • Demoted planet, dejected boy:A student pines for Pluto to be restored to its former planetary status

    11/05/2007 9:02:04 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies · 66+ views
    Christian Science Monitor ^ | November 1, 2007 | Robert Klose
    I understood his travail. When I was a kid, I had a favorite planet. It seemed that all my friends did. Mine, for a reason I can no longer put my finger on, was Venus. I still recall a schoolyard fray in which I faced off against a kid who was ballyhooing the case for Jupiter as the "best" planet. The volume of recriminations rose to the point where a crowd gathered and one of the teachers had to separate us. Who knew that astronomy could stoke such passions? ...The thing is, like that long-ago schoolyard standoff pitting Venus against...
  • Did an ancient impact bowl Pluto over?

    10/30/2007 7:29:02 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies · 123+ views
    New Scientist ^ | October 5, 2007 | Maggie McKee
    Pluto and its large moon Charon may have been bowled over when they were struck by wayward space rocks in the past, a new study suggests. If so, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft may find evidence of these rolls when it arrives at the distant worlds in 2015. Jay Melosh of the University of Arizona in Tucson, US, first suggested about 30 years ago that the basins gouged out by impacts would redistribute the mass of planetary bodies, causing them to roll over to re-stabilise themselves... Now, Francis Nimmo of the University of California in Santa Cruz, US, who led the...
  • Pluto status suffers another blow (Pluto Gets "plutoed" again!)

    06/15/2007 8:04:06 PM PDT · by IllumiNaughtyByNature · 40 replies · 983+ views
    BBC News ^ | 06/15/07 | BBC News
    Pluto has suffered yet another blow to its status. Not only has it been demoted from planet to "dwarf planet", research now shows that it cannot even lay claim to being the biggest of these. A study has confirmed that the dwarf planet Eris - whose discovery prompted Pluto's relegation from planet to dwarf - outranks it in mass. snip
  • A Goofball Called Pluto

    05/26/2007 8:56:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies · 419+ views
    SpaceDaily ^ | May 18, 2007 | Bruce Moomaw
    "IAU presented the resolution to its General Assembly on August 16, giving the roughly 2500 attendees more than a week to discuss it. But the committee expected clear sailing...Instead, the '12-planet proposal' went down in flames. Critics objected that planets should also be defined by their orbital dynamics, not just by their size and shape. All eight 'major' planets, they pointed out, were massive enough to sweep up, fling away, or gravitationally control all the debris in their parts of the early solar sys[t]em, but Ceres and Pluto [and other candidate 'planets' among Kuiper Belt Objects] were not... the absurdity...
  • Pluto-Bound New Horizons Provides New Look at Jupiter System

    05/02/2007 8:34:51 PM PDT · by NormsRevenge · 10 replies · 552+ views
    NASA/JPL ^ | 5/1/07
    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has provided new data on the Jupiter system, stunning scientists with never-before-seen perspectives of the giant planet's atmosphere, rings, moons and magnetosphere. These new views include the closest look yet at the Earth-sized "Little Red Spot" storm churning materials through Jupiter's cloud tops; detailed images of small satellites herding dust and boulders through Jupiter's faint rings; and of volcanic eruptions and circular grooves on the planet's largest moons. New Horizons came to within 1.4 million miles of Jupiter on Feb. 28, using the planet's gravity to trim three years from its travel time to Pluto. For...
  • Astronomers swarm southern Ariz. to watch as Pluto blots out star

    03/17/2007 8:33:14 PM PDT · by NormsRevenge · 18 replies · 651+ views
    TUCSON, Ariz. -- Swarms of astronomers are expected to pack major observatories in Arizona this weekend hoping to see a rare "occultation" as Pluto crosses in front of a star and blots out its light. Sunday morning's event is exciting for scientists because it will give them a better idea of the size and makeup of Pluto's atmosphere. In an occultation -- not an eclipse, mind you -- the nearer object blots out the light and is backlit. If there is no atmosphere, it will blink out almost instantly, said Don McCarthy of the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory. But...
  • It's a Planet If We Say It's a Planet (NM Legislature restores Pluto's status)

    03/14/2007 11:21:11 AM PDT · by CedarDave · 24 replies · 338+ views
    The Albuquerque Journal ^ | March 14, 2007 | Bruce Daniels
    The International Astronomical Union may have demoted Pluto from its full-fledged status as a planet last year, designating it a "dwarf planet," but the state House of Representatives this week passed a joint memorial restoring Pluto to its full planetary glory whenever it passes over New Mexico, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. Clyde Tombaugh, who helped create New Mexico State University's astronomy department and spent much of his life in Las Cruces, discovered photographic evidence of Pluto on Feb. 18, 1930, at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz. Tombaugh's 94-year-old widow, Patsy Tombaugh, and his daughter, Annette Tombaugh-Sitze, who both...
  • New Horizons Probe Approaching Jupiter Fly-By, Slingshot

    02/27/2007 9:40:09 PM PST · by LdSentinal · 15 replies · 475+ views
    Spacecraft Will Commit "Grand Theft Pluto"... And No One Will Be Able To Catch It By the time you read this, NASA's New Horizons probe will be swinging by Jupiter, on its way to a rendezvous with the almost-planet Pluto. The space agency says New Horizons will take advantage of its first interplanetary encounter -- gathering photos, data, and an extra 9000 miles per hour, courtesy of the largest planet in our solar system. New Horizons is already the fastest spacecraft ever to leave Earth, but it needs even more speed to catch Pluto, which is receding from the sun....
  • New Horizons Movie Trailer

    02/10/2007 10:11:48 AM PST · by MikeD · 2 replies · 155+ views
    New Horizons Web Site ^ | February 8, 2007 | New Horizons Science Team
    There is an amusing Quick-Time movie advertising New Horizons's upcoming Jupiter Fly-By. Some cool Jupiter images are included.
  • Probe nears close encounter with Jupiter

    01/19/2007 3:44:40 PM PST · by kennedy · 15 replies · 578+ views ^ | January 19, 2007 | Reuters
    A spacecraft is zooming toward a close encounter with Jupiter to study its tempestuous atmosphere, ring system and four of its moons before dashing off to see distant Pluto in 2015, scientists said on Thursday. NASA's New Horizons, the fastest spacecraft ever built by humans, is due to reach Jupiter, our solar system's largest planet and fifth from the sun, after a 13-month journey from Earth, flying almost half a billion miles. Launched on January 19, 2006, it is set to make its closest pass by Jupiter on February 28, flying within 1.4 million miles. NASA scientists said the main...
  • What's a Planet? New riddles beyond the solar system

    12/03/2006 11:21:07 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies · 344+ views
    Science News ^ | December 2, 2006 | Ron Cowen
    Luhman and his colleagues used the Hubble Space Telescope to photograph an object, about 10 Jupiter masses, orbiting the star CHXR 73. The orbiting object's mass alone would typically identify it as a heavy planet spawned from a disk that once surrounded this young star. However, the newfound object lies about five times as far from CHXR 73 as Pluto's average distance from the sun. Theory suggests that a gas-and-dust disk isn't likely to contain enough material that far from a star to make a planet... Distinguishing between brown dwarfs and planets is important, says Luhman. A brown dwarf could...
  • Why Planets Will Never Be Defined

    11/21/2006 8:42:28 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 34 replies · 393+ views
    Ad Astra, via Space dot com ^ | November 21 2006 | Robert Roy Britt
    Before the dust even settled after the Great Pluto War at the International Astronomical Union (IAU)'s General Assembly in Prague, one thing became clear: There will never be an accepted scientific definition for the term "planet." Rather than crafting an acceptable definition, the IAU alienated members, put the group's authority in jeopardy and fueled schisms among astronomers on theoretical grounds and even nationality. And the whole affair was scientifically pointless, many astronomers say..."It is a little-known fact that nearly 25 percent of the known extrasolar planets are in binary- or multiple-star systems," said Stephen Kortenkamp , a research associate at...
  • Gabler: Media Have 'Tread Lightly' on Rush The 'Cancer'

    10/28/2006 5:47:30 PM PDT · by governsleastgovernsbest · 119 replies · 3,333+ views
    Fox News Watch/NewsBusters ^ | Mark Finkelstein
    A month or so ago I would have said that Neal Gabler and I inhabit different planets, but his apparent home of has recently been demoted from planetary status. While I'm off searching for another metaphor, let me pass along the latest comment from the decidedly liberal denizen of Fox News Watch that made me reflect on just how distinct a world view we have. In the course of discussing on this evening's show the controversy that erupted this past week over Rush Limbaugh's comments about Michael Fox, Gabler had this to say: "The media has tread lightly on Rush...
  • The celestial fraud

    08/18/2006 4:38:41 AM PDT · by Clive · 63 replies · 1,119+ views
    National Post ^ | 2006-08-18 | (editorial page)
    As usual, Pluto calls the shots at the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Why even convene IAU meetings at all? Why not just let it be resolved that Pluto gets whatever it wants and everyone goes home? After two years of deliberation, an IAU committee has proposed a new definition of "planet," one custom-made to ensure the inclusion of the celestial fraud we call Pluto. Indeed, the committee has even created a new class of planets called "plutons" -- Pluto-like objects that conform to Pluto's deviant ways. This means that when the committee's proposal is passed by the IAU general assembly...
  • Introducing Asteroid #134340 (a.k.a. Pluto)

    10/07/2006 6:44:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies · 260+ views
    Popular Mechanics ^ | October 2006 | Erin McCarthy
    Following last month’s decision by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to strip Pluto of its planetary status, the icy rock now has a new, not-so-catchy moniker: Asteroid Number 134340... Even with the name change, the IAU doesn't expect anyone to refer to Pluto differently -- nor do they want them to. “134340” is strictly for the IAU's Minor Planet Center catalog of numbered objects with orbits. As for "Xena" -- the name planet guru Michael Brown offered for his discovery of a distant, icy rock that reignited the Pluto debate -- it, too, has a new name: Eris, from the Greek...
  • Pluto is Now Just a Number: 134340

    09/14/2006 8:11:36 PM PDT · by kingattax · 38 replies · 806+ views ^ | 9-11-06 | Ker Than
    Pluto has been given a new name to reflect its new status as a dwarf planet. On Sept. 7, the former 9th planet was assigned the asteroid number 134340 by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), the official organization responsible for collecting data about asteroids and comets in our solar system. The move reinforces the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) recent decision to strip Pluto of its planethood and places it in the same category as other small solar-system bodies with accurately known orbits. Pluto's companion satellites, Charon, Nix and Hydra are considered part of the same system and will not be...
  • Interview with the IAU President on Pluto's Demotion

    09/11/2006 4:09:36 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 6 replies · 178+ views ^ | 09/11/06 | Sara Goudarzi
    Last month, Catherine Cesarsky became the president of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Cesarsky, the first woman to hold this prestigious position, started her presidency at a time when many scientists are questioning IAU's recent decision to strip Pluto of its planetary status based on a vote of just 424 members at a meeting in Prague. Cesarsky served as the director general of the European Southern Observatory since 1999 and is famed for her research work in central areas of modern astrophysics. She also led the design and construction of the ISOCAM camera onboard the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) of...