Saturday, February 20, 2010


I'm not a Republican
I'm not a Democrat...
For years I've been a

~ Clyde Tombaugh

Of Note: Clyde Tombaugh "discovered" Pluto in 1930. At that point, no one argued that Pluto was the ninth planet and congratulated the young Kansan for his astronomical observation. Pluto is 3.67 billion miles away which made it impossible to closely observe. It wasn't until the 1970's and 1980's that Pluto's size was downgraded to smaller than the smallest planet, Mercury. As a matter of fact, it was only half the diameter. In the 1990's a belt of objects past Neptune were discovered, and astronomer's realized that Pluto was merely a part of that large belt of asteroids. Thus, in 2006, a new definition for planets was created by the powers that be, and Pluto was stripped of it's planetary regalia. It is not surprising that many did not agree with the ruling, and the controversy has raged ever since. As a matter of fact, a majority of Americans overwhelmingly sided with Pluto's planethood in a 2009 poll. The ancients might agree. Astrologically, 12 planets are known to exist, and Pluto has not been been removed from its planetary list. Thanks to Ken Croswell, an astronomer, for his insighful editorial in the Wall Street Journal about this timely subject.

Today's Weather Report: What can I say? Another sunny day mixed with a cloudy day. Pretty typical for winter in the northwoods. This is a picture of the moon from my backyard last year, not Pluto obviously. What I had in mind was a little exercise in using the "As If" technique to imagine Pluto all those billions of miles away. It is so far away it orbits the sun only once every 248 years. What's more, sunlight requires several hours to reach it. Strangely, during the years 1979 to 1999, Pluto was inside the orbit of Neptune so was the eighth planet from the sun rather than the ninth. Now that's it's been stripped of its credentials as a bona fide planet, Pluto makes a perfect underdog for Americans to champion. My prediction? I wouldn't be surprised if one day, Pluto isn't recognized as a planet once more.

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