Why Pluto is not a planet anymore?

On many of our daily astronomical tours, it is common for some people ask whether Pluto is a planet or not? And if it was one, why isn’t it one now? Today in our blog we give you the keys to understanding this… astronomical confusion.

Pluto was discovered in 1930 in the United States and this is precisely one of the first keys to the affair:

#1: Pluto is the only planet in the solar system discovered by the US.  Remember that the classical planets, those visible to the naked eye (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) have been known for centuries and centuries, so it is not possible to attribute their discovery to a particular person. Uranus was discovered by William Herschel in 1971 and Neptune by the German Johann Galle.

From the moment of its discovery Pluto seemed to be a “complicated” planet. It was clear that it was tiny, which broke the original idea that our Solar System was organized in such a way that the small, rocky planets were near the Sun and the gaseous giants were further away. Then Pluto appears, a small rocky body out in the confines of the Solar System.

#2: Pluto broke the acknowledged distribution of the planets in our solar system.

In addition, Pluto did not fulfill the orbital resonance that seems to “order” our Solar System, which causes each planet to be approximately twice the distance from the Sun than the planet before it. To simplify it (a lot) if Mercury is 1 away, Venus is 2 away, Earth 4 away, Mars 8 away … but nevertheless Pluto is not twice the distance from the Sun as Neptune is. In fact, at some points of its orbit, Pluto invades the orbit of Neptune and is positioned closer to the Sun!!

#3: Pluto does not conform to the rules of orbital resonance with the other planets.

One of the biggest problems with Pluto is that it is not on the same orbital plane as the rest of the planets. I.E. while all the planets orbit the Sun on the same plane, Pluto does it with an inclination of up to 16º.

#4: Pluto orbits on a different orbital plane to the other planets.

But without a doubt, the biggest obstacle occurred when we began to study the orbit of this planet and began to discover dozens and even hundreds of objects that shared the same orbit as Pluto, exactly the same orbit. In fact, even some objects of almost the same size, such as Eris, were found. The fifth reason is the most compelling.

 # 5: Pluto appears simply to be one more object on an asteroid belt, called the Kuiper belt.

But of course … if we go back to reason # 1, which says that it is the only planet discovered by the US, we can find the reason why, when all these things were discovered and its status as a planet was questioned, the Americans got seriously angry! In the end, it was THEIR planet and they bitterly defended that Pluto should continue to be defined as a planet. The truth is that with very good arguments, in that, to call a body which is so large that it had acquired the spherical shape of a planet, an “asteroid” was not very logical either.

The compromise solution was found in 2006 in Prague, when a meeting of the International Astronomical Union dictated the three requirements for a planet to be considered as such:

  1. The object must be in orbit around the sun.
  2. The object must have gravity enough to be round.
  3. The object must have cleared its neighboring orbit.

The third point is the one that caused Pluto to lose its status of Planet, because it does not meet it. However, to satisfy everyone, it was agreed to propose an intermediate category called “dwarf planet” for those bodies that only meet the first two. That’s why Pluto is our favorite dwarf planet.

At AstroAndalus , your agency specializing in astronomical tourism,  we do not often observe the planet Pluto, as it is extremely difficult to see, but if we have lots of fun observing its big brothers like Júpiter and Saturno.

We are looking forward to meeting you on one of our activities! Information and reservations at www.astroandalus.com/en

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Why does Easter always coincide with a full moon?

Easter is approaching and in addition to all the typical images of these day, such as processions, beaches and bars, there is another, a shining, stunning full moon in the sky. Today on the AstroAndalus blog, you want to tell the reason for this fact.

The date on which Easter is celebrated varies from one year to another and the reason has much to do with the night sky. The date that marks the celebration of this feast was set at the Council of Nicaea, when it was agreed that Easter would coincide with the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

This year 2017 the Equinox took place on the Iberian peninsula, exactly on March 20 at 11:29. The first full moon after that date takes place on Monday, April 10, which points us directly to the 17th as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the equinox.

Easter is also a red-letter day for AstroAndalus, as it marks the beginning of our season and the beginning of our daily activities.

This year we started to operate in the province of Malaga, with daily departures by bus from Torremolinos and Malaga itself.

Don’t hesitate to enjoy some of our activities. Information and bookings in AstroAndalus.

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The return of the giant

For the last few days, shortly after dusk there is a bright star in the night sky. It is of a creamy colour, crisp and it is not flashing. Over the coming weeks and months, it will move upwards in the night sky and will take on a starring role in this summer of 2017. We are talking about the planet Jupiter and here at AstroAndalus you want to tell a little more about it.

Through a telescope, Jupiter shows us an impressive system of clouds which are parallel to the equator. But nevertheless the highlight feature of the planet when it is observed isn’t the disc itself, but its system of moons, which in fact can be observed even with modest binoculars. IO, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto were observed for the first time by the astronomer Galileo Galilei, and since then as many as 8 space probes have flown over or orbited this giant planet, the largest in the solar system.

From AstroAndalus, your travel agency specializing in astronomical tourism, we invite you to participate in one of our daily tours from the Costa del Sol to enjoy the view of Jupiter and its moons with your own eyes.

Go to www.astroandalus.com and start your trip to the cosmos.

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Go, Johnny go

On 20th August 1977, the first Voyager Space probe was launched from Cape Canaveral (Florida) on a mission which would take it to visit the planets of Jupiter and Saturn for the first time. On 5th September of the same year the second Voyager accompanied it on its way and, in addition, flew past Uranus and Neptune.

As well as all the scientific equipment, the Voyager probes also carried a gold record with images and sounds from our planet, a beautiful collection of what could be understood as a “letter of introduction” from Earth. This record included traditional songs from several countries, sounds from nature, such as waves or thunder and greetings in many languages. In addition, it contained more contemporary songs, amongst which we can highlight the famous Johnny B. Goode by the North American Chuck Berry.

On the musician’s 60th birthday, the astronomer Carl Sagan wrote a letter of congratulation which said:

Chuck Berry passed away this last weekend, but his Johnny B. Goode is still playing in space on board the Voyager space probes, which are now beyond the solar system. This is the human creation that has travelled furthest and it keeps rocking in space to the sound of Chuck’s lived-in voice and his electric guitar.

Rest in peace and “Go Jhonny, go”.


P.S.: Full disc can be listened ->here<-

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