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Night Sky Olympic Tribute
Planet Earth presents a grand international sporting spectacular every four years, the Olympic Games. Even if you're not fond of sports, it's a majestic pageant and a set of unfolding dramas that a scriptwriter couldn't hope to emulate. Here is my astronomical tribute to this magnificent saga.
From ancient times to the present, fifteen Solar System objects have been called planets. But there are only eight planets now. Find out what happened to the other seven and how the planets got their names.
Pluto Facts for Kids
A dwarf planet so far away that the Sun would look like a exceptionally bright star, so cold that its atmosphere is frozen for most of its year. This is Pluto, former planet, and now the gateway to the Kuiper Belt.
Cepheus the King
An ancient Greek tale of pride and passion is played out across the sky, and involves five constellations including Cepheus the king. In the constellation Cepheus there are stars being born and stars at the end of their lives, including those which will die in a blaze of glory.
Does Sound Travel through Space
Can sound travel in space? The short answer is no, but it's not so simple. We can't hear the sound waves, but the Sun produces them. And then there's the black hole that astronomers have detected endlessly singing a B-flat over tens of thousands of light years.
Eris and Pluto - They're not Twins
For nearly ninety years Pluto was our ninth planet. Then in 2006, much to the annoyance of some, it was no longer a planet, but a dwarf planet. What happened? Eris happened. Some call Eris and Pluto twin planets, but they aren't twins. Eris has a secret.
Seeing in the Dark - book review
Does amateur equal incompetence? No, says Timothy Ferris in a superb book exploring the role of amateur astronomers in probing the heavens. He reminds us that the root of the word amateur is love, and interweaves the stories of these lovers of astronomy with a grand tour of the universe.
Oort Cloud - Facts for Kids
Where do comets come from? The Oort Cloud is home to a trillion comets at the edge of the Solar System, nearly half way to the next star. Sometimes they get kicked out and sometimes they come to visit the inner Solar System.
Le Gentil - Heroic Failure
Here's the story of Guillaume Le Gentil who went to India to observe the transit of Venus in 1761 and took eleven years to get home again. War and weather conspired to prevent his making observations and illness further delayed his return. Was he the unluckiest astronomer ever?
Transit of Venus - Captain Cook 1769
How big is the Solar System? 18th century astronomers tried to find out by sending expeditions around the world to measure a transit of Venus. One of these was Captain Cook's voyage to Tahiti. He went under the auspices of the Royal Society, but he carried secret orders from the government.
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