August 28, 2014

26.07.11: Naming P4; A Humble Proposal.

The many worlds of Pluto! (Credit: NASA/HST/SETI Institute).

By now, you’ve heard the news and read the tweets; Pluto has a fourth moon to accompany Charon, Nix, & Hydra. The discovery announcement came last week from a team of astronomers led by the SETI Institutes’ Mark Showalter utilizing the Hubble Space Telescope. The observation campaign is part of an ongoing effort to survey the environs of Pluto in anticipation of NASA’s New Horizons flyby in July of 2015. [Read more...]

The Discovery of Eris & its Implications.

Eris & Dysnomia as seen from Hubble. (Credit: NASA/HST/ESA M.Brown).

   As 2010 draws to a close, a quiet discovery was made recently about a fascinating solar system object. January 5th, 2011 will mark the six year anniversary of the discovery of 2003 UB313, which became provisionally known as the planet Xena and then later demoted to the dwarf planet Eris. [Read more...]

25.05.10- Ad-Hoc Imaging and the Tale of Copland Crater.

Copland Crater as imaged by Messenger. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Messenger).

Copland Crater as imaged by Messenger. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Messenger).

 

   Oh, how far we’ve come… time was when the family portrait of the solar system included blurry images snapped from world class observatories. Fast forward to the 21st century, and amateur astronomers now routinely delete pristine images from memory cards for tiny flaws that would have been the envy of astronomy text books a decade ago. Professional and amateur astronomers have always run a technological arms race of sorts, and the tale of the planet Mercury over the past decade is a good case in point. [Read more...]

Are you a Planet? A humble proposal.

UB313

UB313/Xena/Gabrielle/Eris/Dysnomia!

(NASA/Artists’ Conception) 

   Here’s a fun proposal. Next time you find yoursef bored, go into the science department of your local university and just casually pose the question “gee, maybe Pluto should/shouldn’t be a planet.” Then stand back and watch the slide rules fly (yes real science geeks still pack slide rules, for when the apocalyspe comes!)    [Read more...]