Solar System

Category archives for Solar System

“One should not need a teleportation device to decide whether a newly discovered object is a planet.” -Jean-Luc Margot It was a harsh lesson in astronomy for all of us in 2006, when the International Astronomical Union released their official definition of a planet. While the innermost eight planets made the cut, Pluto did not.…

“Mars’ atmosphere is so thin, you do not need a lot of streamlining. By the time the ship is going fast enough for air resistance to matter, it’ll be high enough that there will be practically no air.” -Andy Weir, The Martian, as spoken by Bruce Ng If you had taken a trip to our…

“If we get rid of the moon, women, those menstrual cycles are governed by the moon, will not get PMS. They will stop bitching and whining.” -Joe Scarborough, misattributing a quote to Arnold Schwarzenegger that was actually spoken by an impersonator Our Moon is pretty unusual as far as the Solar System goes: of all…

Did Mars Once Have Three Moons? (Synopsis)

“The larger inner moons fall back to Mars after about 5 million years due to the tidal pull of the planet, after which the two outer satellites evolve into Phobos- and Deimos-like orbits.” -Pascal Rosenblatt, et al. Compared to the other moons we know of in the Solar System, Mars’s two, Phobos and Deimos, are incredibly difficult to…

“How vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable this Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them.” -Christiaan Huygens It was quite a surprise when we started discovering all the exoplanets that were out there. While there’s a big…

How flat can a planet be? (Synopsis)

“‘I’ll follow him to the ends of the earth,’ she sobbed. Yes, darling. But the earth doesn’t have any ends.” -Tom Robbins We have some pretty good definitions of what it takes to be a planet, and one part of that definition is that a world needs to be massive enough to pull itself into…

“To morrow, I believe, is to be an eclipse of the sun, and I think it perfectly meet and proper that the sun in the heavens, and the glory of the Republic should both go into obscurity and darkness together.” -Benjamin F. Wade The Moon is spherical, and so its shadow should be a circle…

“By preventing dangerous asteroid strikes, we can save millions of people, or even our entire species. And, as human beings, we can take responsibility for preserving this amazing evolutionary experiment of which we and all life on Earth are a part.” -Rusty Schweickart Asteroid strikes are among the most destructive natural disasters to ever impact…

“The dance between darkness and light will always remain — the stars and the moon will always need the darkness to be seen, the darkness will just not be worth having without the moon and the stars.” -C. JoyBell C. What do you do when you discover a moon around Saturn that’s only visible during half of…

“Men of genius are often dull and inert in society; as the blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is only a stone.” -Henry W. Longfellow When you look at the meteors striking Earth today, as well as over the past 466 million years, you find something surprising: they don’t line up with the population…