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In their own words

Emily Lakdawalla • August 16, 2011

While doing my daily reading today I was struck by the awesomeness of two recent blog posts. Both were composed not by professional bloggers like me but by professional space explorers, one a scientist and the other an engineer.

The most exciting citizen science project ever (to me, anyway)

Emily Lakdawalla • June 21, 2011

A guest blogger here recently rounded up the large number of participatory research projects that are collectively known as citizen science. I think these are all very cool and I encourage you to check them out but none of them has yet inspired me to spend my precious time as grunt labor on a gigantic collective project. Until now.

Observing at the WIYN

Meg Schwamb • June 08, 2011

On May 5 and 6, I had a run on the WIYN (Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO) telescope, a 3.5 m telescope, the second largest telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona.

South of the Border

Meg Schwamb • May 25, 2011

The last decade has seen an explosion in our understanding of the solar system with the discovery of the largest Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) of comparable size to Pluto.

Another scientific clarification: Vanth probably not half the mass of Orcus

Emily Lakdawalla • January 14, 2011

Earlier this week I got all excited about the Orcus-Vanth system. It turns out there was a math error in the version of the paper that I read, which resulted in the notion that Vanth could be nearly as big as Orcus.

Eris might be smaller than Pluto after all (but it's still more massive)

Emily Lakdawalla • November 08, 2010

Several astronomers pointed their telescope at Eris to watch it pass in front of a background star. Occultations permit precise measurement of the diameters of distant, faint objects, and it turned out that Eris was much smaller than previously thought, so much so that its diameter may turn out to be the same as, or even smaller than, Pluto's.

Naming X: A contest for kids to name small bodies

Emily Lakdawalla • April 29, 2010

A contest has just been announced that appears to create a pathway for schoolchildren to suggest names to the International Astronomical Union for minor planets -- all those small things in the solar system that don't orbit the eight big ones.

New maps of Pluto show pretty amazing amounts of surface change

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2010

I just posted my writeup of today's press briefing on a new map of Pluto produced from Hubble images. The main conclusion was that Pluto has shown an astonishing amount of changes across its surface between 1994 and 2002 -- more, in fact, than any other solid surface in the solar system.

Report #2 from the New Horizons Science Team Meeting

Ted Stryk • January 20, 2010

The second report by Ted Stryk from the New Horizons science team meeting, focusing on the search for Kuiper belt object (KBO) targets.

Report #1 from the New Horizons Science Team Meeting

Ted Stryk • January 19, 2010

The New Horizons science team is meeting this week. Ted Stryk was invited to attend the meeting, and he sent the following notes from the first day.

Two cool discoveries today: icy-hot exoplanet and smallest ever Kuiper Belt object

Emily Lakdawalla • December 16, 2009

There are two cool stories circulating today on the theme of discovering new places in the cosmos.

LPSC: Thursday: Rovers, Titan, Mars, Venus Express, Neptune

Ted Stryk • March 14, 2008

I spent a large portion of the day at the Lunar and Planetary Institute's library and presented my own poster during the poster sessions, so my coverage of Thursday's sessions is limited.

OPAG, Day 2: Ground-based study of the small bodies in the outer solar system

Emily Lakdawalla • May 07, 2006

After the political discussions of the morning, Mike Brown stood up to give the "highly subjective view of one ground-based astronomer," he said.

(Almost) everything you ever wanted to know about New Horizons and Pluto

Emily Lakdawalla • December 20, 2005

I was browsing around the Web today looking for material to improve the information we have on our site about Pluto, and discovered that the New Horizons mission has just posted their launch press kit.

An official pronouncement may be coming about the "what is a planet?" debate

Emily Lakdawalla • September 21, 2005

Since the discovery of 2003 UB313, larger than Pluto, there's been a lively debate going on in many places about what makes a planet. There's now an article in Nature talking about a proposal that would address the controversy

Pluto: The Discovery of a Planet

Amir Alexander • February 18, 2005

To mark the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the planet Pluto, The Planetary Society presents to its readers the remarkable story of the discovery.

The Discovery of a Planet, Part 6: From Pluto to Sedna

Amir Alexander • February 17, 2005

74 years after Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto as a faint dot on a pair of photographic plates, a modern group of astronomers made another remarkable discovery. On March 15, 2004, Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz of Yale announced the discovery of Sedna – the furthest object ever detected in the Solar System.

The Discovery of a Planet, Part 5: The Aftermath

Amir Alexander • February 16, 2005

The discovery of Planet X was announced to the world on March 13, 1930, which marked the anniversary of William Herschel’s discovery of Uranus in 1781 as well as Percival Lowell’s birthday. The observatory’s communiqué emphasized that the discovery was no coincidence, but the vindication of Lowell’s predictions made years before.

The Discovery of a Planet, Part 4: Clyde's Search

Amir Alexander • February 15, 2005

Since his teenage years Clyde Tombaugh had been an avid amateur astronomer and a gifted telescope builder. Based on instructions contained in an article from a boy’s Sunday school paper, he built a series of telescopes of increasing power and quality on the family farm.

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