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Latest International Astronomical Union Stories

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2006-08-19 15:05:00

PASADENA, Calif. -- Few planet hunters stand to gain as much as Michael Brown if our solar system balloons to 12 planets under a new definition. He's spotted more than a dozen objects that might qualify as planets. So why is he upset? "When I was a kid, planets were special," he said. "This definition takes the magic out of the solar system." It was Brown's discovery of an icy rock bigger than Pluto that helped lead astronomers to rethink their definition of what a planet is. But Brown...

2006-08-16 13:25:00

By Alan Crosby PRAGUE -- Learning the planets of our solar system is about to become more difficult for school children around the world. The International Astronomers Union (IAU) put forward a definition of a planet on Wednesday that will expand the number from nine to 12, and create different categories of planets in a nod to technological advances that allow astronomers to look deeper into space. In defining for the first time what exactly a planet is, a seven member committee of the IAU...

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2006-08-16 17:34:24

WASHINGTON - The idea that our nine-planet solar system may soon join the obsolete world of eight-track tapes and slide rules should send science teachers, textbook writers and toymakers back to the cosmic drawing board. "Does it make our products obsolete?" asked Kim McLynn, spokeswoman for Illinois-based Learning Resources, which makes an inflatable solar system and a Planet Quest game. "Wow, a whole new universe." Though not approved yet, the 76-year-old lineup of the solar system's...

2006-08-16 13:27:18

By Alan Crosby PRAGUE (Reuters) - The question of whether Pluto is a real planet, hotly debated by scientists for decades, came to a head on Wednesday when the global astronomers' body proposed a definition of a planet that raises their number to 12 from nine. The definition set out by a committee of the International Astronomers Union (IAU) answers the key question: How small can a body be and still be called a planet? in a way that leaves Pluto's status intact -- but modified....

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2006-08-16 06:55:00

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- The universe really is expanding - astronomers are proposing to rewrite the textbooks to say that our solar system has 12 planets rather than the nine memorized by generations of schoolchildren. Much-maligned Pluto would remain a planet - and its largest moon plus two other heavenly bodies would join Earth's neighborhood - under a draft resolution to be formally presented Wednesday to the International Astronomical Union, the arbiter of what is and isn't a planet....

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2006-08-15 07:50:00

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Scientists have to agree on a universal definition for what qualifies as a planet, the head of a global astronomy organization said Tuesday, as scientists debate the future designation of Pluto. "People have to be able to agree on a terminology that's used to describe things in the universe," Ronald D. Ekers, president of the International Astronomical Union, told reporters in Prague. "We don't want an American version, a European version and a Japanese version."...

2006-08-13 11:55:53

By Alan Crosby PRAGUE (Reuters) - Despite being the farthest planet from Earth in our solar system, Pluto has come under attack from astronomers and may be about to lose its status in the battle. Some 3,000 astronomers and scientists from around the world will meet in Prague this week to decide whether Pluto, discovered in 1930, measures up to the definition of a planet. In defining for the first time what exactly a planet is, the International Astronomers Union (IAU) may be forced...

2006-08-13 11:55:00

By Alan Crosby PRAGUE -- Despite being the farthest planet from Earth in our solar system, Pluto has come under attack from astronomers and may be about to lose its status in the battle. Some 3,000 astronomers and scientists from around the world will meet in Prague this week to decide whether Pluto, discovered in 1930, measures up to the definition of a planet. In defining for the first time what exactly a planet is, the International Astronomers Union (IAU) may be forced to downgrade...

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2005-09-10 09:38:31

Astrobiology Magazine -- When planetary scientists announced on July 29 that they had discovered a new planet larger than Pluto, the news overshadowed the two other objects the group had also found. But all three objects are odd additions to the solar system, and as such could revolutionize our understanding of how our part of the celestial neighborhood evolved. To the discoverers, the objects still go by the unofficial code-names "Santa," "Easterbunny," and "Xena," though they are...

2005-08-10 13:30:00

Berkeley -- One of the thousands of asteroids orbiting the sun has been found to have a mini planetary system of its own. University of California, Berkeley, assistant research astronomer Franck Marchis and his colleagues at the Observatoire de Paris have discovered the first triple asteroid system - two small asteroids orbiting a larger one known since 1866 as 87 Sylvia. Because 87 Sylvia was named after Rhea Sylvia, the mythical mother of the founders of Rome, Marchis proposed naming the...


Word of the Day
mallemaroking
  • Nautical, the visiting and carousing of sailors in the Greenland ships.
This word is apparently from a confusion of two similar Dutch words: 'mallemerok,' a foolish woman, and 'mallemok,' a name for some persons among the crew of a whaling vessel.