Tag archives for Planets
Scientists have recently discovered two new moons orbiting the dwarf planet Pluto, bringing the total up to five. SETI scientists are asking people to send in their name ideas for the newly-discovered moons. The names must come from Greek or Roman mythology and have something to do with Pluto/Hades and the underworld. The three moons that already have names are called Charon, Hydra, and Nix.
A planet that is about twice the size of Earth has been found orbiting a nearby star in the constellation Cancer. This planet is much too hot for humans to ever live on. But the heat is very good for something else–creating diamonds! The planet is very rich in carbon, which is what diamonds are made of. The illustration above shows the planet with a layer of diamonds under its graphite surface.
Illustration courtesy Haven Giguere, Yale
Tomorrow night, the planets Venus and Jupiter will be very close to each other in the night sky–3 degrees apart, which is about the width of two fingers held at arm’s length. These two planets are the brightest ones visible to the eye. When planets line up in the sky, it is called a conjuction. Although the planets may look like they are close together, they are really more than 448 million miles apart from each other.
Photograph by Laurent Laveder, TWAN
Astronomers say three space rocks found near Pluto might actually be new dwarf planets. Astronomer Scott Sheppard and his colleagues used the reflectivity of the space rocks to determine their size. However, because the space rocks are so far away, scientists are not sure if they are spherical (which means they would need to be to be named dwarf planets). There are currently five dwarf planets: Pluto, Eris, Ceres, Haumea, and Makemake.
Illustration courtesy Dana Berry, Kepler/NASA
BOOK NAME: 13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System
AUTHOR: David A. Aguilar
I’ve read a lot books about the solar system, but this one is not at all like any of the others. While they teach in most schools that there are eight planets in the solar system, this book takes a look at 13 planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars (the rock planets), Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune (the gas giants), Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris (the dwarf planets).
This book doesn’t only talk about the planets, it also talks about the moons of each planet, the Asteroid Belt and the Kuiper Belt (a larger version of the Asteroid Belt). It also explains which planets and moons might have water and even how the solar system likely will end someday. (The good news is this won’t happen for another seven billion years, so don’t be too freaked out.)
I like how the book also tells the mythology behind every planet’s name. My favorite planet is the dwarf planet Haumea. It has the shape of an egg and rotates like a football being kicked off for a field goal. It is named after a powerful Hawaiian sorceress whose name is pronounced “Hah-oo-MAY-ah.”
The inside front cover of 13 Planets also shows what each planet would look like if you saw it through a 100x-power telescope, with the Earth’s Moon filling up the entire lens and Neptune barely appearing as the size of a speck of dust.
I would definitely recommend this book because it is a very fun and interesting way of learning about our solar system.