October 23, 2017

Review: How I Killed Pluto & Why it Had it Coming by Mike Brown.

Target: Pluto?

Caltech Astronomer Mike Brown is on the cutting edge of modern day “faint fuzzy” hunting at the fringe of the solar system and has found himself at the epicenter of several scientific battles over the past decade. In How I Killed Pluto & Why it Had it Coming, Dr. Brown takes us behind the scenes of his discoveries and, after a brief history of solar system exploration, takes us on a deeply personal tale of modern discovery and a fascinating look at how modern astronomy in the Internet era gets done. Intertwined with the tale of successive discoveries in the outer solar system is an intimate look at Mike’s personal world, his family, and how a scientist and his family operates… just think, how many of us personally know a true scientist, in our families or on the block? [Read more...]

23.04.11: A Plutonian Atmosphere.

New Horizons at Pluto, an Artist’s Conception. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Johns Hopkins). 

As the New Horizons spacecraft approaches the distant world, Pluto is beginning to seem more planet-like by the day. Recently a team including astrobiologist Jane Graves used time on telescopes perched atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea complex to reveal an intriguing constituent of the Plutonian atmosphere; carbon monoxide. [Read more...]

29.04.10-Name a Minor Planet!

(Credit: NASA.gov).

(Credit: NASA.gov).

An object awaits naming!

   Break out those mythological encyclopedias; the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature and the International Astronomical Union wants YOU, the school age public, to name a minor planet. Tomorrow, April 30th will have been one year since the passing of Venetia Burney Phair. At age 11, Miss Burney had the opportunity to suggest a name for the ever-controversial planet Pluto. Fans of this site will remember that she was also the subject of the outstanding documentary film Naming Pluto by director Ginita Jimenez.  Saturday, May 1st will also be the 80th Anniversary of the official adoption of the name Pluto.  Tomorrow, Friday April 30th 2010, a competition entitled Naming X will open to give school children the chance to duplicate Venetia Burney’s feat. Recognition will be first come, first credited, so don’t delay! Also, keep in mind that this is about the children; no bloggers (as jealous as we are!) can crash this party. Categories are detailed on the site for groups and individuals from elementary school age on up, with prizes that would make any astronomy fan blush. The judging panel includes notables such as Astroguyz former next door neighbor David Levy (I heard he’s discovered a comet or two), Professor Ian Morison, and Dr. Marc Buie. Now would be a perfect chance to get the kids excited about Kuiper Belt and Trans-Neptunian Objects, and maybe the whole celestial object naming business.

…And kids, don’t forget to take a few pointers from Venetia and how she accomplished her proposal; the name Pluto was selected from Roman mythology and fit well with the tradition of naming solar system objects. Resist the urge to submit the names of pets, favorite cartoon characters, and the like. And don’t forget, you have a tool that at your cyber-disposal that young Venetia didn’t have, the Internet. Not only will this allow you to scour the respective mythological pantheons, but will also give you the ability to check possible names for originality in astronomical use. Just think, Astroguyz has given you the edge already…beyond that, the rest is up to you. Astroguyz will be following to see what original ideas you come up with. Further instructions are on the site. Names are not to be longer than 16 characters, easily pronounceable, and to be accompanied by a brief justification of not more than 25 words. May the best student and/or group win!

Is Pluto a Planet? by David Weintraub

The issue of planet-hood has become a hot button topic in the astronomical community as of late.

In is “Pluto a Planet?” Author David Weintraub tackles the thorny issue that has plagued astronomers and school children alike.  [Read more...]