austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Number nine will put you on the spot

You know, I really want somebody to find a tenth planet. Or at least to discover another planet in our Solar system, to head off people insisting the Moon is really a planet, or that if Pluto counts then Charon must, or similar pedantry. Historical usage and the name make it hard to sell the Moon as a planet, and Charon just doesn't cut it. Pluto gets in mostly from those decades everyone figured it had to be a gas giant or at least a twin to Earth because it'd be less convenient if it were tiny.

I don't have a specific reason for this feeling, or why it's strong enough to mention. It's not as if there's a shortage of wonderful and bizarre objects in the known solar system. Maybe I just never got over the disappointment of hearing there was a newly discovered planet, Chiron, between Saturn and Uranus, and learning it was only an asteroid. I've got dimmer memories of the discovery of Charon, maybe because it took a while to get it separated in my mind from Chiron.

Anyway, that's what I want today. A new planet, not some wimpy Kuiper Belt Object, but a real gas giant with weird chemistry and dozens of moons of sizes from post office box to Mercury-sized, in orbits reaching out to 50 million kilometers, and a bizarre ring structure to cap off the show. That's not too much to ask, is it? Just expand on the Pioneer anomaly a little ...

Trivia: Voyager 1's photograph of the Earth and Moon was added to the flight plan only after Voyager 2's launch, less than two weeks before its own liftoff. Source: ``Voyage of the Century,'' Bradford A Smith, National Geographic, August 1990.

Currently Reading: Asimov's New Guide to Science, Isaac Asimov.

Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 10 comments