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Keyword: astronomy

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  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Interview with the IAU President on Pluto's Demotion

    09/11/2006 4:09:36 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 6 replies · 178+ views
    space.com ^ | 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...
  • Experts' vote could mean demotion for Pluto

    08/13/2006 5:58:09 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 47 replies · 377+ views
    Rocky Mountain News ^ | August 12, 2006 | Jim Erickson
    News leaks about the planet definition began to spout late this week, as the authors prepared to present a draft resolution to the IAU's executive committee Sunday in Prague. The IAU is the official arbiter of all issues related to astronomical nomenclature. In a story that aired Thursday, unnamed sources told National Public Radio the proposed definition would include Pluto in a new class of small planets. A source also told the Rocky Mountain News on Thursday that a member of the seven-person definition panel said Pluto will remain a planet. IAU Vice President Bob Williams described the reports as...
  • Planetary Politics: Protecting Pluto

    09/09/2006 8:17:25 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies · 278+ views
    Space dot com ^ | 7 September 2006 | Edna DeVore
    Earlier this year, the BBC interviewed Mrs Venetia (Burney) Phair, the only living person to have named a planet... The IAU decision was political. Scientists voted to demote Pluto to the status of "dwarf planet." ...In California, of course, the real politicians found a reason for action in Pluto's demotion. While there are many more serious problems--over crowded schools and universities, decayed freeways, and the health care crisis, just to name a few—fifty-four of our esteemed elected officials found the time and energy for a Resolution that supports Pluto's status as a full-fledged planet. They call the IAU "mean-spirited" for...
  • New Planet Is Bigger Than Pluto

    02/01/2006 11:04:55 AM PST · by NormsRevenge · 42 replies · 500+ views
    AP on Yahoo ^ | 2/1/06 | Alicia Chang - ap
    LOS ANGELES - Scientists say they have confirmed that a so-called 10th planet discovered last year is bigger than Pluto, but that likely won't quell the debate over what makes a planet. The astronomers who spotted the icy, rocky body — informally called UB313 — had reported only a rough estimate of its size based on its brightness. But another group of researchers has come up with what is believed to be the first calculation of UB313's diameter. By measuring how much heat it radiates, German scientists led by Frank Bertoldi of the University of Bonn estimated that UB313 was...
  • 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
    spacedaily.com ^ | 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...
  • 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....
  • 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 plutorocks.com,
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Reflected Aurora Over Alaska

    02/12/2013 4:14:48 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | February 12, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Some auroras can only be seen with a camera. They are called subvisual and are too faint to be seen with the unaided eye. In the above image, the green aurora were easily visible to the eye, but the red aurora only became apparent after a 20-second camera exposure. The reason is that the human eye only accumulates light for a fraction of a second at a time, while a camera shutter can be left open much longer. When photographing an already picturesque scene near Anchorage, Alaska, USA, last autumn, a camera caught both the visual green and subvisual...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- N11: Star Clouds of the LMC

    02/11/2013 4:53:39 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | February 11, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Massive stars, abrasive winds, mountains of dust, and energetic light sculpt one of the largest and most picturesque regions of star formation in the Local Group of Galaxies. Known as N11, the region is visible on the upper right of many images of its home galaxy, the Milky Way neighbor known as the Large Magellanic Clouds (LMC). The above image was taken for scientific purposes by the Hubble Space Telescope and reprocessed for artistry by an amateur to win the Hubble's Hidden Treasures competition. Although the section imaged above is known as NGC 1763, the entire N11 emission nebula...
  • Mystery Mini Moons: How Many Does Earth Have?

    02/10/2013 2:09:02 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 31 replies
    discovery ^ | Feb 7, 2013 11:50 AM ET | // by Irene Klotz
    Earth's gravity may not have the gravitas of Jupiter, but the planet regularly plucks small asteroids passing by and pins them into orbit. The mini-moons don't stay for long. Within a year or so they resume their looping, twisting paths like crazy straws around the sun. But others arrive to take their place. Simulations show that two asteroids the size of dishwashers and a dozen half-meter (1.6 feet) in diameter are orbiting Earth at any given time. Every 50 years or so something the size of a dump truck arrives. So far, there's been just one confirmed sighting. ... A...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Asteroids in the Distance

    02/09/2013 9:56:44 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | February 10, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Rocks from space hit Earth every day. The larger the rock, though, the less often Earth is struck. Many kilograms of space dust pitter to Earth daily. Larger bits appear initially as a bright meteor. Baseball-sized rocks and ice-balls streak through our atmosphere daily, most evaporating quickly to nothing. Significant threats do exist for rocks near 100 meters in diameter, which strike the Earth roughly every 1000 years. An object this size could cause significant tsunamis were it to strike an ocean, potentially devastating even distant shores. A collision with a massive asteroid, over 1 km across, is more...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Great Meteor Procession of 1913

    02/09/2013 11:52:18 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | February 09, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: One hundred years ago today the Great Meteor Procession of 1913 occurred, a sky event described by some as "magnificent" and "entrancing" and which left people feeling "spellbound" and "privileged". Because one had to be in a right location, outside, and under clear skies, only about 1,000 people noted seeing the procession. Lucky sky gazers -- particularly those near Toronto, Canada -- had their eyes drawn to an amazing train of bright meteors streaming across the sky, in groups, over the course of a few minutes. A current leading progenitor hypothesis is that a single large meteor once grazed...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6822: Barnard's Galaxy

    02/08/2013 3:57:57 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | February 08, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Grand spiral galaxies often seem to get all the glory, flaunting their young, bright, blue star clusters in beautiful, symmetric spiral arms. But small galaxies form stars too, like nearby NGC 6822, also known as Barnard's Galaxy. Beyond the rich starfields in the constellation Sagittarius, NGC 6822 is a mere 1.5 million light-years away, a member of our Local Group of galaxies. About 7,000 light-years across, the dwarf irregular galaxy is seen to be filled with young blue stars and mottled with the telltale pinkish hydrogen glow of star forming regions in the deep color composite image. Contributing to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lemmon near the South Celestial Pole

    02/07/2013 4:00:05 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | February 07, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Currently sweeping through southern skies, Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6) was named for its discovery last year as part of the Mount Lemmon (Arizona) Survey. Brighter than expected but still just below naked-eye visibility, Comet Lemmon sports a stunning lime green coma and faint divided tail in this telescopic image from February 4. The greenish tint comes from the coma's diatomic C2 gas fluorescing in sunlight. Captured from an observatory near Sydney, Australia, the color composite is constructed from a series of individual exposures registered on the comet. Across the 1 degree wide field of view, the star trails are...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Arms of M106

    02/06/2013 8:04:41 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 06, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The spiral arms of bright galaxy M106 sprawl through this remarkable multiframe portrait, composed of data from ground- and space-based telescopes. Also known as NGC 4258, M106 can be found toward the northern constellation Canes Venatici. The well-measured distance to M106 is 23.5 million light-years, making this cosmic scene about 80,000 light-years across. Typical in grand spiral galaxies, dark dust lanes, youthful blue star clusters, and pinkish star forming regions trace spiral arms that converge on the bright nucleus of older yellowish stars. But this detailed composite reveals hints of two anomalous arms that don't align with the more...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mars: Shadow at Point Lake

    02/05/2013 5:05:14 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | February 05, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What if you saw your shadow on Mars and it wasn't human? Then you might be the robotic Curiosity rover currently exploring Mars. Curiosity landed in Gale Crater last August and has been busy looking for signs of ancient running water and clues that Mars could once have harbored life. Pictured above, Curiosity has taken a wide panorama that includes its own shadow in the direction opposite the Sun. The image was taken in November from a location dubbed Point Lake, although no water presently exists there. Curiosity has already discovered several indications of dried streambeds on Mars, and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Namibian Nights

    02/04/2013 6:16:25 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 04, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Namibia has some of the darkest nights visible from any continent. It is therefore home to some of the more spectacular skyscapes, a few of which have been captured in the above time-lapse video. Visible at the movie start are unusual quiver trees perched before a deep starfield highlighted by the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. This bright band of stars and gas appears to pivot around the celestial south pole as our Earth rotates. The remains of camel thorn trees are then seen against a sky that includes a fuzzy patch on the far right that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- L Ori and the Orion Nebula

    02/02/2013 9:25:36 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 25 replies
    NASA ^ | February 03, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This esthetic close-up of cosmic clouds and stellar winds features LL Orionis, interacting with the Orion Nebula flow. Adrift in Orion's stellar nursery and still in its formative years, variable star LL Orionis produces a wind more energetic than the wind from our own middle-aged Sun. As the fast stellar wind runs into slow moving gas a shock front is formed, analogous to the bow wave of a boat moving through water or a plane traveling at supersonic speed. The small, arcing, graceful structure just above and left of center is LL Ori's cosmic bow shock, measuring about half...