Remember Pluto the planet? And then Pluto the not a planet? Well, it’s back. Possibly. Apparently an informal forum held the other week came down in favour of reinstating the ‘planet’ classification. Of course these things carry little weight with the International Astronomical Union. What interests me is the way that the debate over whether … More Pluto might be a planet again. Or not.
There’s growing evidence that not just our Earth but also the solar system we know and love is actually a rarity, as such things go. Many stars, we now learn, have planetary systems. But very few are like ours. That’s a change from even the mid-twentieth century, when we considered our solar system to be … More Our solar system may be unique – let’s look after it
I found it intriguing that reports about China’s Chang’e 4 lander, at work on the far side the moon, kept referring to it being on the ‘dark side’. In a way the epithet is appropriate; the unseen side has been unknown to us for much of human history. And that, reasonably, made it ‘dark’, at … More Seeing you on the dark side of the Moon
The arrival of OSIRIS-Rex around asteroid Bennu at the end of 2018 is all sorts of exciting. Well, apart from the rather lame acronym the probe’s been saddled with. But other than that, it’s got plenty of promise. Bennu was discovered in 1999 and isn’t very large – just 300 metres across. Its interest comes … More All sorts of exciting with OSIRIS-Rex
This week’s news that the first exo-moon might have been found, about 4000 light years away, is startling for several reasons. The first astonishing bit is that it was found at all. The majority of planets orbiting other stars have been found by light-curve analysis as the planet passes directly between the parent star and … More An exo-moon that’s as big as Uranus! But it ain’t Endor
There’s been a lot of speculation of late about a putative ‘Planet Nine’. No, Pluto hasn’t been restored to proper place – this one is a new idea, proposed in 2014 by Chad Trujillo and Scott S. Sheppard on the basis of the orbits of the trans-Neptunian objects Sedna and 2012VP (which hasn’t been given … More Planet Nine from Outer Space
Earlier this week I interviewed Thea Beckman, a science blogger who’s just released her first science explanation book ‘for the rest of us’ – and good stuff too. We all need to understand science. It’s important. The thing is, we’re living in a world filled with the products of science, one never imagined fifty years … More Why is science IMPORTANT? Listen up, folks