There’s some serious upgrading going on. Alan Stern (in safe black shirt) just called Charon a planet.
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Where is that picture from? Pretty week compared to the most recent ones.
I remember working on the clocks for this little guy almost exactly 10 years ago. I was doing jury duty at the time, so every day after the judge dismissed us, I drove in to work, collected data, moved the next batch into the test chamber, etc. It was a tight schedule since launch windows to Pluto come but once a year, but we obviously we delivered on schedule.
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Pseudo-illuminating Pluto to bring out some wash of human-comprehensible colour is such an abrogation of the body’s context as to render the image almost disingenuous. At that distance from the sun, presumably, the dearth of illumination renders the (dwarf) planet nothing but a Stygian monochrome disk, blotting out the feeble, freezing light of the distant pinpoint stars. A tiny fleck of hard, icy matter lost in the incomprehensible dark yawning nothingness. No light, no warmth, no bright oranges hues, no snowy whites. You might not even be able to tell where the Sun IS, let alone see anything by it.
And it only gets darker.
In all directions.
THAT’s what Pluto is: the last speck of dust on a spherical vista of black, endless, cosmological horror.
But it doesn’t pay to have decent people to consider the cosmic infinity. Much better to colour it in nice friendly orange for the press release, “Look at this guy, remember him from your school lessons? That’s right, just wax nostalgic for a bit about when it was still a planet. Don’t think about what lies beyond.”
4candles Reply:July 15th, 2015 at 12:12 am
I hate it when people use the flash on me too. Maybe one for the NRx T-shirt boys: Pluto by night.
Hanfeizi Reply:July 15th, 2015 at 12:32 am
That was a thing of beauty.
Hattori Reply:July 15th, 2015 at 1:01 am
Well I think I fixed it.
Dark Psy-Ops Reply:July 15th, 2015 at 2:09 am
That’s more like it – the heart-shaped grey within the black really adds that finishing touch.
“You might not even be able to tell where the Sun IS, let alone see anything by it.”
Let’s not get carried away. The sun at Pluto is more than 400 times brighter than the moon in our sky.
Well, it appears much larger than I thought it would. Guess that’s what upgrades do.
There is a good argument that if you were to craft a definition of a planet that includes Pluto, that Charon must also fit in that category, as the center of mass of that system is above Pluto’s surface and both objects are finally locked to each other.
However, as this illustration of the largest well-imaged sub-planetary objects in our solar system shows, there are seven planetary satellites including our own Moon. The object more massive than Pluto (though slightly smaller) whose discovery led to the furor over Pluto’s planetary status is notably absent from the graphic, though, as the highest resolution imagery of Eris show it as a featureless point of light a few pixels across.
admin Reply:July 15th, 2015 at 8:29 am
Without wanting to get into fat-shaming, our moon has a bit of a porky thing going on.
E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:July 15th, 2015 at 1:47 pm
Dianas hardest hit
The Moon is obviously the first planet in the Terra system
@The Reluctant Apostate
there are seven planetary satellites including our own Moonthat are larger than Pluto.
E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:July 15th, 2015 at 1:52 pm
But Plutocharon, that’s another thing
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