Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ceres, welcome to the cool kids table.

I'm not attached or anything, so I thought expanding the definition of a planet to include all objects big enough to be round was pretty cool.

Yes, it is a compromise between the hard-core planetologists - who insist that only objects that were involved in the formation of the solar system should be defined as planets - and the lay person - who cannot part with the idea that our beloved Pluto isn't really a planet.

It's a simple scientific definition of what a planet is, but it makes our solar system a whole lot more complex.

For instance... did you know that there is a planet - albeit a dwarf one - between Mars and Jupiter?! How cool is that? And were not sure yet, but there may be more dwarf planets in the asteroid belt. And what about Pluto and Charon (formerly known as the moon of Pluto)? They actually make up a binary planetary system! And apparently there are a whole schlew of planets - maybe hundreds - in the reaches beyond Pluto that include the recently found 2003 UB313.

Maybe it's just me, but I've got a new found interest in the solar system. It's like when I learned to ride the bike and found a much bigger world beyond my own little neighborhood.

3 comments:

Ro6er said...

I am also celebrating the renewed look at the old solar system. Your comments made me realize there is another binary system, the earth/moon planetary pair, which orbits Sol, and produces a marvelous helical ion trail as it rotates. When looking at the orbiting pair the earth can be readily identified,as it is more than 5 times larger than the moon, and has a lot of orbiting detritus. This is an obvious case of a two planet pairing, and calling one of the pair a satelite is geocentrically loathsome...

TerriG said...

Ro6er - actually they took that into account. The actuall definition is that it is big enough to be round and it has to orbit the sun. Since the center of mass of the earth/moon system is inside the earth, the moon officially orbits the earth.

michael Laine said...

hi terri! welcome to the blogosphere. :-)

thought you might like to see tom nugents thoughts on planets and naming and catogorizing http://www.contracheck.com/nika/?cat=19

i like that there are possibly hundreds, if not thousands of potential planets 'out there'. my first space project, before i got invovled with the Space Elevator, was called "1000 Planets, Inc." a washington C corporation. it was that starting point that got me into the 'space biz' in the first place. the company mission: nothing short of colonization of 1000 planets, moons, asteroids and man-made space stations....

so i figure, with more 'planets' out there, there is more room to grow...

take care. mjl