Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hot Hot Hot

Here's a little bit of faux astrophotography for you. This is the surface of the sun. Well, at least it's an artists depiction of the surface of the sun. There are a series of informative placards that begin in front of the National Air And Space Museum in DC, the first of which shows you the sun. Then each of the following placards is spaced out in scale to show you how big the solar system is. I don't remember exactly where poor Pluto is, or if they even have a Pluto anymore since it got demoted from planet, but if they do, I bet it's over in Arlington somewhere. Uh-oh, I'm wrong. Pluto was down by the Castle.

1 comment:

Laurel Kornfeld said...

It's great that they still have Pluto! Pluto is still a planet. Only four percent of the IAU voted on the controversial demotion, and most are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately opposed in a formal petition by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. One reason the IAU definition makes no sense is it says dwarf planets are not planets at all! That is like saying a grizzly bear is not a bear, and it is inconsistent with the use of the term “dwarf” in astronomy, where dwarf stars are still stars, and dwarf galaxies are still galaxies. Also, the IAU definition classifies objects solely by where they are while ignoring what they are. If Earth were in Pluto’s orbit, according to the IAU definition, it would not be a planet either. A definition that takes the same object and makes it a planet in one location and not a planet in another is essentially useless. Pluto is a planet because it is spherical, meaning it is large enough to be pulled into a round shape by its own gravity--a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium and characteristic of planets, not of shapeless asteroids held together by chemical bonds. These reasons are why many astronomers, lay people, and educators are either ignoring the demotion entirely or working to get it overturned. I am a writer and amateur astronomer and proud to be one of these people. You can read more about why Pluto is a planet and worldwide efforts to overturn the demotion on my Pluto Blog at http://laurele.livejournal.com