So apparently Pluto is a planet again, based on the fact that it formed around the sun and is round with gravity.

By that logic there’re now 13 planets in the Solar System.

You got Pluto back, nostalgia freaks, so you better accept its new buddies:

Eris, Ceres, Haumea and Makemake.

And also maybe: Orcus, Ixion, Salacia, Varuna, Quaoar, Sedna and my favourites, 2002 MS4, 2007 OR10, 2007 UK126 & 2005 UQ513

So yeah. 13 planets at least, up to 23, maybe more.

And you wonder why they didn’t like calling Pluto a planet.


This is something my friend, a 1st year Computer Science student does — visualising data from SDSS, The Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He’s an internship worker for a renowned Estonian cosmologist Elmo Tempel (Tartu Observatory) who uses the visualisations to detect filamentary patterns in cosmic webs, evaluate the characteristics of galaxies and their clusters, and research Dark Matter. Tempel has a lot of publications which you can find here if you scroll down a bit (a bunch of interesting astrophysics stuff). I’m sure great things will come from their work.

Watch on

What Would Happen If the Planets Lined Up?

Planetary alignments: They’re the favorite astronomical scenario of kooks, con artists, and Hollywood producers everywhere. But has it ever happened? And what would it do to Earth if it did? 

Colorful Clouds of Antares and Rho Ophiuci
Colorful clouds decorate this region of the sky surrounding the bright supergiant star Antares (left bottom) and triple star Rho Ophiuchi (top right). Probably this is the most colorful area visible from Earth.

The blue reflection nebula (IC4604) surrounding Rho Ophiuchus represents the visible counterpart of a much larger but invisible molecular cloud permeating the region and known as the Ophiuchus cloud. The area is highlighted by the bright star Antares as well, a red supergiant star, located at the bottom left of the image. The central core of this giant molecular cloud can be seen as a dense dark nebula, where no star visible on this picture. Although if we would imaged in infrared light, we could look into the dust seeing star formation directly, spotting many young stars there.
This is one of the nearest and most studied regions of star formation in the local Milky Way at a distance of about 520 light years.

The following deepsky objects can be observed in this image: M4, NGC6144, vdB104, vdB107, IC4605, IC4603, IC4604, IC4605, and many more LBN and LDN bright and dark nebulae.

Credit: Ivan Eder

onachu said:

Have you seen this recent "Pluto is a planet again!" thing? It's quickly making its rounds on Tumblr and I'm curious about your thoughts on it (I have my own opinions but I'd like to hear yours).

Ha, yeah, of course I have.

Call these objects what you will, whether it be planetoids, minor planets, dwarf planets, celestial bodies or planetswe - humans - are simply arguing semantics over a more aesthetically (and psychologically) pleasing way to avoid admitting that they’re all - large or small - ASTEROIDS IN STABLE ORBITS…the stellar fragments left over from the formation of the solar system itself.

We’re still on a continuous endeavor to understand our origins, and the 9th planetary body beyond Uranus, Pluto, whatever word we fancy…it’s there, holding pieces to the puzzle.

Reminder to all: the stars do not care about what the sentient newcomers to the universe call their planetary neighbors…they’ll fry you to death, consume you, or explode and extinguish all inhabited or uninhabited bodies of rock and metal just the same.

Also, an intelligent and technologically capable civilization elsewhere would have a pretty difficult time spotting the self-proclaimed “third ROCK from the sun an M-class star” when scanning their visible universe for diverse planetary systems. We should all keep that in mind and remain humble that we’re still alive amidst a time when the first generation of humans - that’s us - has achieved the capability to survey solar systems beyond our own. 

And lastly - aside from mentioning that there are far other incredible discoveries being made and goings on in the universe to be griping about the planetary taxonomy of orbiting bodies amidst our this solar system - WE STILL HAVEN’T BEEN TO PLUTO…YET. NASA’S NEW HORIZONS SPACECRAFT IS DUE TO ARRIVE IN PLUTO IN JULY OF 2015!

Once we get to Pluto, then we can start having a conversation.

To fully grasp the significance of this current mission to Pluto, I can’t recommend this 45-minute documentary enough


New Horizons: Passport to Pluto

Wild ducks take flight in open cluster

The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has taken this beautiful image, dappled with blue stars, of one of the most star-rich open clusters currently known — Messier 11, also known as NGC 6705 or the Wild Duck Cluster.

Messier 11 is an open cluster, sometimes referred to as a galactic cluster, located around 6000 light-years away in the constellation of Scutum (The Shield). It was first discovered by German astronomer Gottfried Kirch in 1681 at the Berlin Observatory, appearing as nothing more than a fuzzy blob through the telescope. It wasn’t until 1733 that the blob was first resolved into separate stars by the Reverend William Derham in England, and Charles Messier added it to his famous catalogue in 1764.

Open clusters are typically found lying in the arms of spiral galaxies or in the denser regions of irregular galaxies, where star formation is still common. Messier 11 is one of the most star-rich and compact of the open clusters, being almost 20 light-years across and home to close to 3000 stars. Open clusters are different to globular clusters, which tend to be very dense, tightly bound by gravity, and contain hundreds of thousands of very old stars — some of which are nearly as old as the Universe itself.

Studying open clusters is great way to test theories of stellar evolution, as the stars form from the same initial cloud of gas and dust and are therefore very similar to one another — they all have roughly the same age, chemical composition, and are all the same distance away from Earth. However, each star in the cluster has a different mass, with the more massive stars evolving much faster than their lower mass counterparts as they use up all of their hydrogen much sooner.

In this way, direct comparisons between the different evolutionary stages can be made within the same cluster: for example, does a 10 million year old star with the same mass as the Sun evolve in a different way to another star that is the same age, but half as massive? In this sense, open clusters are the closest thing astronomers have to “laboratory conditions”.

Because the stars within open clusters are very loosely bound to one another, individuals are very susceptible to being ejected from the main group due to the effect of gravity from neighbouring celestial objects. NGC 6705 is already at least 250 million years old, so in a few more million years it is likely that this Wild Duck formation will disperse, and the cluster will break up and merge into its surroundings.

Image credit: ESO

Reposted from my twitter, because this “OMG Pluto is a planet again!!!” thing is really making me angry. (I will admit that my tweet was a bit rude, but this issue has bugged me for a while and I need to get this off of my chest.)

First of all, just because astronomers at Harvard decided that Pluto should be a planet again doesn’t make it official. As of right now Pluto is still not recognized as a planet by NASA or the IAU.

The major issue here is that Pluto is currently categorized as a dwarf planet. A dwarf planet is different from normal planets in that it is unable to clear other objects out of its orbital path due to its small mass.

The problem is, dwarf planets seem to be increasingly more common as more and more are discovered. There are at least a dozen, maybe even up to 200 dwarf planets in our solar system. If Pluto becomes a planet again, then what are we going to do about the other dwarf planets? Do they get to be planets too? Having more than 200 planets in our solar system to memorize might get a tad confusing.

And yet, people are willing to promote Pluto back up to “planet” status simply because they are attached to it and find the “little guy” endearing. That’s not very fair to the other dwarf planets, is it?

This is what bothers me so much about this debate. Pluto was demoted for a reason. It just doesn’t fit in with the other planets. I know many people are willing to make some sort of story about this, saying that Pluto will finally have reached “justice” or “gotten revenge” or something like that. But if you ask me, Pluto was out of place ever since it was discovered in 1930. But it found a proper family with the other dwarf planets, it found a place where it could truly belong. And if you people are so eager to accept Pluto as a planet again, then you had better be willing to accept Pluto’s brothers along with it.