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Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Withnail, Apr 17, 2010.
Pluto & Charon, dwarf planet & moon or binary dwarf planet?
Fair question. Those of us who grew up with 9 planets before they demoted Pluto tend to be a bit suspicious of the new designations, although I accept the reasons for doing so.
Pluto revealed with that mission that it wasn't some boring frozen rock, but a world of features and happenings. (Colder than Tern Hill on a bad day though .. )
Finally got round to ticking off Neptune and completing the set of planets (the 8). Nicely positioned in the night sky at the moment, but it still requires some reasonable optics and knowing exactly where to look.
To me it was just a pale microdot in the night sky, but to Voyager 2, back in 1989, it looked like this:
As if Earthquakes weren't enough to worry about without big incoming rocks ….
Betelgeuse, the giant red star on the left shoulder of Orion, has been behaving strangely in recent months. It's been getting fainter.
This star is a definite candidate to go supernova at some time during the next million years or so. If it did it would light up the sky, and be visible during daytime as it isn't that far away … about 650 light years. It isn't likely, (not within our lifetimes anyway) as there are other explanations for the dimming. But it is possible.
It would surely be something to see.
Been taking advantage of Neptune's position, very close to Venus tonight, to have another look at our Solar System's most distant planet.
Oh, and Betelgeuse does seem fainter than usual. Or is that Beetlejuice?
Some reports put it's magnitude down by 25%, which is a lot. But it has done this before, it's an unstable giant, destined to go pop one day and scatter into the abyss elements essential for the building of life.
Beetlejuice is a copy your long lost ancestor. Looking at him above, for some … maybe not so lost or long ago.
I was sad to see that Dr Heather Couper had died. She was one of those people whose enthusiasm for her subject overflowed in bounds, even if you weren't that keen on the subject you couldn't help but be impressed. (And I've always been keen on her subject.)
The BBC have always been good at finding people to explain things who become natural presenters of often quite difficult subjects.
She was a Star …
And, like the rest of us, she came from the stars, and to the stars we will all return.
We are all star dust …. or as Jim Al-Khalili put it … (somewhat less romantically) … nuclear waste. (He is another excellent BBC science presenter.)