Far Out!

Well, it looks as though Pluto may not be the last stop on the way out of our solar system after all. New information from the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters tell us that a couple of extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNOs) are most likely inhabiting the area beyond the orbit of our beloved dwarf-planet. The Guardian states that two planets as big as Earth may be edge lingering on the edge of the solar system.

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Good Day Sunshine

Sunshine is a welcome sight on wintery days. Even when it’s chilly outside, the cheery presence of our solar system‘s very own resident star makes a blustery breeze and low temperatures bearable. Want to accurately calculate sunrise and sunset? Want to keep up with the sun’s movement? Take a look at SunCalc.

This is a screenshot of SunCalc.

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Out of This World Ideas, Warped Space, and a Planet That Never Was

An attendee at the 2012 Montreal Comiccon displays the Vulcan salute, a hand gesture consisting of a raised hand, palm forward with the fingers parted between the middle and ring finger, and the thumb extended.

Vulcan salute

Something important happens every day of the year. For example, imagine celebrating the New Year one day and getting an opportunity to celebrate a new celestial body on the next. Well, it almost happened.

How?

On January 2nd in 1860 attendees at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris, France were told of the discovery of a (hypothetical) planet dubbed Vulcan. The noted French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier, attempting to explain peculiarities of the planet Mercury’s orbit, suggested that another (unseen) planet, purportedly located in an orbit between Mercury and the Sun, was the cause of the astronomical aberrations.

Verrier, though intellectually brave for sharing his hypothesis, was incorrect. How do we know? Although there was an extensive search for Vulcan that planet was never found. The strangeness of Mercury’s orbit, the most eccentric orbit of all the planets in our solar system, have been explained by Albert Einstein‘s fascinating theory of general relativity. The short explanation is the Sun’s mass warps space-time around our resident star which, in turn, affects the orbit of the body closest to it, the small but speedy Hermean planet.

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Just for fun: