Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Dwarf planet" to be replaced by nicer word?

While there are no indications that the new order of the solar system agreed on two years ago - with (8) planets, dwarf planets and small stuff - might be revised again, the IAU Division III "Planetary Systems Sciences" is working on some possible clarifications of the 2006 resolutions. They don't make any noise about their deliberations, but the latest IAU Information Bulletin carries an interesting note on the bottom of page 60 (PDF page 68): Among its "issues of concern" as of this April the Division lists the "[f]ormation of Task Groups to assess the hydrostatic equilibrium and clearing out of orbital zones for dwarf planets. Seeking advice from the EC about what we need to achieve by Rio. Finding another term for dwarf planet." The acronym "EC" means the IAU Executive Committee, and "by Rio" refers to the next General Assemby in August 2009 - when new resolutions could be voted on ...

In other news a meteoroid has grazed the upper atmosphere on Sep. 22 and vanished into interplanetary space again! This conclusion is based on just one video of the associated meteor and clever math. • Comet 205P/Giacobini with fragments a and b on Sep. 21. • The eclipse comet of 2008 in close-up and motion. This blog has learned, by the way, that there was yet another airplane going after the eclipse, this time from California - one of the Google founders had his plane going there, taking an astronomer with him (who can be seen in this picture sharing his eclipse video; no other details are known). Also more ground-based images taken right next to yours truly. And a Hinode X-ray image of the Feb. 7 eclipse, seen only as a partial one from orbit.

• The ISS & ATV imaged recently in high resolution - the latter will reenter on Sep. 29, and a major campaign is underway to observe the reentry from two airplanes. One of which is not an "Ames research aircraft", actually, but one of the Google planes mentioned above, a Gulfstream V full of portable astronomy equipment. ESA will blog about ATV's final hours. • And finally a paper on "SN 1987A's Wild Cousin" supernova 1996cr is making news now as "one of the nearest-known exploding stars of the last quarter-century" was nailed down with the help of lots of online archives. It's still 12 million light years away, though.


Laurel Kornfeld said...

Hopefully, the IAU Division III will take the time to listen to some of the very detailed and fascinating discussions on this topic at the Great Planet Debate in Laurel, MD this summer. Audio and video proceedings can be found at

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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