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Waspie_Dwarf

Charon Revealed!

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Charon Revealed!

New Horizons Camera Spots Pluto’s Largest Moon

NASA’s Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft, using its highest-resolution telescopic camera, has spotted Pluto’s Texas-sized, ice-covered moon Charon for the first time. This represents a major milestone on the spacecraft’s 9½-year journey to conduct the initial reconnaissance of the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt and, in a sense, begins the mission’s long-range study of the Pluto system.

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Edited by Waspie_Dwarf
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I have been waiting YEARS for New Horizons to get to Pluto!

Almost time....

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I have been waiting YEARS for New Horizons to get to Pluto!

Almost time....

7½ years down, 2 to go.

When it was launched on 11th January 2006 I thought it would seem a life time before it arrived. I still had 9 days of my thirties left and I would be nearly 50 when it arrived at Pluto (over 50 when it encounters a Kuiper Belt Object). Yet so much has happened in space exploration since it was launched that the time seems to have passed quite quickly.

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Didn't the powers that be decide that Pluto didn't qualify to be a planet? I would think the fact it has a moon would qualify it.

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Didn't the powers that be decide that Pluto didn't qualify to be a planet?

Yes, it is now classified as a dwarf planet along with Ceres in the main asteroid belt and Haumea, Makemake, and Eris in the Kuiper Belt.

I would think the fact it has a moon would qualify it.

Actually it has at least five, but that has absolutely no baring at all on its planetary status.

Many small asteroids also have moons (including 1998 QE2 which made a close fly-by of the Earth in May {see HERE}) and these asteroids certainly don't qualify as planets.

On the other hand, if you take into account that neither Mercury nor Venus have moons but DO qualify as planets then it is easy to see that the number of moons an object must be irrelevant to whether it is classified as a planet or not.

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Maybe we'll finally see whether or not there is a 10th...oops I mean 9th planet

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Maybe we'll finally see whether or not there is a 10th...oops I mean 9th planet

If there are further planets out there it would by highly unlikely that New Horizons will find it by direct observation. The outer solar system is a mind bogglingly huge place. It would by an enormous coincidence for New Horizons to fortuitously pass by it.

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If you're big enough to have your own satellites orbiting you, as far as I am concerned you are a planet.

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as long as they are round, they should be considered planet instead of asteroids

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If you're big enough to have your own satellites orbiting you, as far as I am concerned you are a planet.

Fortunately the decision wasn't up to you. By your definition the solar system has tens of thousands of planets, some of them irregular in shape and only a few miles across.

as long as they are round, they should be considered planet instead of asteroids

You definition is, at least, more sensible than that of WelshRed (which is truly nonsensical and unworkable).

Define "round". Jupiter spins so rapidly that through a telescope it is clearly flattened at the poles. Does that mean it isn't a planet. Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt IS a close approximation to a sphere, so are you saying that is a planet?

This is not a dig at you. The "roundness" of an object is actually a part of the definition of both planets and dwarf planets, but it is rather vague, potentially leading to problems of classification in the future. Further more putting a limit on how round an object has to be before it can be considered a planet or a dwarf planet would be a purely arbitrary limit.

The official IAU definitions are:

The IAU ... resolves that planets and other bodies, except satellites, in our Solar System be defined into three distinct categories in the following way:

(1) A planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, ( B) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and © has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

(2) A "dwarf planet" is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, ( B) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, © has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite.

(3) All other objects,3 except satellites, orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as "Small Solar System Bodies."

Source: Wikipedia

Your definition the solar system has 13 known planet as Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris would all be considered planets. 2007 OR10, Sedna, Quaoar, and Orcus almost certainly qualify too, so we now have to teach our children not 9 but 17 planets.

Worse still, the Kuiper Belt is believed to be teeming with such objects. If we stick to your definition, over the next few years we will have to consider hundreds of bodies as planets.

This desperation to keep Pluto as a planet flies in the face of scientific reason and common-sense. The sentimental view of the solar system having 9 planets has been blown away for ever.

When Ceres was discovered in 1801 it was classified as a planet. With in a few years it was realised that it was just the largest of thousands of objects orbiting in the asteroid belt. The astronomers of the early 19th century took the pragmatic decision to down grade Ceres and no one is fighting to have it regraded as a planet today.

We now know that Pluto is just one of thousands of objects orbiting in the Kuiper Belt (unlike Ceres, Pluto may not even be the largest. Eris has a similar diameter to Pluto's but is actually more massive). The astronomers of the early 21st century have taken the pragmatic view to down grade Pluto.

Eventually people will accept that Pluto is not a true planet and wonder what all the fuss was about (which will be good because I will be able to stop repeating myself in every single topic about Pluto). I do think that this has not been helped by professional astronomers. They really could have done more to explain the reasons for their decisions to the general public.

You can have a solar system with hundreds of planets or you can have one with eight. Nine is no longer an option. An eight planet solar system is the only one that makes real sense in my view (and, more importantly, in the view of the International Astronomical Union).

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Whether planet or no, it will be great when the spacecraft sends close up photos of Pluto; one more piece of the puzzle that makes up our solar system. Many of the planets/moons/planetoids are so different from one another there is no telling what these photos may reveal and there's the excitement!

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7½ years down, 2 to go.

When it was launched on 11th January 2006 I thought it would seem a life time before it arrived. I still had 9 days of my thirties left and I would be nearly 50 when it arrived at Pluto (over 50 when it encounters a Kuiper Belt Object). Yet so much has happened in space exploration since it was launched that the time seems to have passed quite quickly.

I know how you feel . i just hope that i still kicking when it reach pluto

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