Is Pluto a planet or just a rocky lump of ice -these and other universe altering questions are keeping astronomers and sky gazers in a tizzy not to mention printers, publishers and billions of kiddies who will have to come to terms with the fact that the Solar Sytem has not nine, not 12 but perhaps a whole truckload of planets.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets. Surely one can never forget one’s planets unless one is American.
If 2003 UB313 is to be a planet, and Pluto is not, if Pluto’s moon is to be a planet as is the asteroid Ceres what in the high heavens will my very educated mother show me?
The cosmic chaos started with the discovery of 2003 UB313 (aka Xena) – larger and farther away than Pluto. Then came the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decision to DEFINE a planet. (Apparently a large-sized round object orbiting the Sun that got us through Grade 1 is not good enough).
For the record, more Americans can identify Superman’s home planet than name the planet nearest the Sun. And in other weird space news, the Chinese Government is blasting seeds into space in the hopes that cosmic radiation modifies the seeds which in turn will improve the crop yield back on Earth. Some 2,000 seeds are saddling up for a two week mission aboard the Chinese satellite Shijian-8.