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New Moon Found Orbiting Neptune

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the welcome-to-the-party dept.

Space 120

Dave Knott writes "A tiny, previously unknown moon circling Neptune has been spotted by astronomers using the Hubble telescope. The moon, which is currently known as S/2004 N1, was found on July 1 by Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., NASA announced Monday. It is less than 20 kilometres wide and its orbit is 105,000 kilometres from Neptune, between those of Larissa and Proteus, two of Neptune's other 14 known moons. It circles Neptune once every 23 hours."

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But wait... (4, Insightful)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year ago | (#44306157)

Since Pluto is not a planet anymore, we shouldn't be allowed to call a 20 km wide rock a moon. Let's have a big convention to decide how we should call it.

Re:But wait... (5, Funny)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#44306161)

A space station?

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306975)

There is a disturbance in the force.

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44309163)

"That's no small moon, it's a space station..."

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44309725)

It is not a space station you silly fool, it is an advanced scout ship for an alien invasion.

Re:But wait... (5, Informative)

dltaylor (7510) | about a year ago | (#44306193)

The dividing line between "moons" and "rings" seems to be shared orbits, otherwise every little rock and/or ice ball in the outer planets' rings would have to be a "moon". A 20 km rock (or whatever) has enough gravity to sweep the space through which it passes, either clustering smaller bits into rings, adding them to its mass, or ejecting them from the planetary system.

Remember, Pluto was only a "planet" because we didn't realize it was an instance of a much larger class of KBOs. Now it appears to be more like a cluster of bits orbiting a mutual center, different from the planets and their moons, which have an orbital center deep inside the respective planets. Even without the companion bits, though, it's still a KBO.

We had already separated the "asteroids" from the 8 planets.

Re:But wait... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306805)

Remember, Pluto was only a "planet" because we didn't realize it was an instance of a much larger class of KBOs. Now it appears to be more like a cluster of bits orbiting a mutual center, different from the planets and their moons, which have an orbital center deep inside the respective planets. Even without the companion bits, though, it's still a KBO.

Also, we once found a "planet" (Ceres) between Mars and Jupiter, and then another (Pallas), and then came Vesta and Hygiea. And then we realized that what was in between Mars and Jupiter was an asteroid belt.

We don't go around demanding Ceres be called a planet again because (a) it isn't, and (b) all the people who may have thought of it that was are now dead. This 'Pluto Restoration Society' will go away when those that can't adjust their mind to the reality of the universe die off. See Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions".

Re:But wait... (3, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44307349)

Also, we once found a "planet" (Ceres) between Mars and Jupiter, and then another (Pallas), and then came Vesta and Hygiea. And then we realized that what was in between Mars and Jupiter was an asteroid belt.

The asteroids were known long before Pluto was discovered, though. And classified as asteroids for over a century by then.

As for which one was discovered first, Ceres was the first registered, but there are historic data hinting at Vesta having been known in earlier times - it's at times visible to the naked eye.

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310367)

The asteroids were known long before Pluto was discovered, though. And classified as asteroids for over a century by then.

You're missing the point. At the time Ceres was discovered, the rest of the asteroid belt wasn't, and so it was considered a planet. Later, the rest of the asteroid belt was discovered, and so Ceres was downgraded to an asteroid. Similarly, at the time Pluto was discovered, the rest of the Kuiper belt wasn't, and so Pluto was considered a planet. Later, the rest of the Kuiper belt was discovered, and so Pluto was downgraded to a Kuiper belt object.

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307079)

The dividing line between "moons" and "rings" seems to be shared orbits, otherwise every little rock and/or ice ball in the outer planets' rings would have to be a "moon". A 20 km rock (or whatever) has enough gravity to sweep the space through which it passes, either clustering smaller bits into rings, adding them to its mass, or ejecting them from the planetary system.

Remember, Pluto was only a "planet" because we didn't realize it was an instance of a much larger class of KBOs. Now it appears to be more like a cluster of bits orbiting a mutual center, different from the planets and their moons, which have an orbital center deep inside the respective planets. Even without the companion bits, though, it's still a KBO.

We had already separated the "asteroids" from the 8 planets.

The Earth and Moon are "a cluster of bits orbiting a mutual center".

Re:But wait... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44307353)

The Earth and Moon are "a cluster of bits orbiting a mutual center".

The center-of-gravity of the Earth-Moon system is inside the Earth. For the Pluto-Charon system, the COG is outside of Pluto.

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307723)

The barycenter of the Sun-Jupiter system is outside the Sun also.

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44308467)

So you're saying we should stop calling the sun a "planet"?

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44309947)

Using the location of a barycenter is a rather poor definition to use for a double planet, as it depends not only on the relative mass, but also the distance between the two bodies, with larger distances making for an external barycenter. The Earth-Moon barycenter is already about 75% of the radius of the Earth away from the center of the Earth, and with the increasing distance, in a couple billion years would start to have a barycenter outside of the Earth. So if you prefer that definition of a double planet or something else, it comes with the idea that a system of objects could change from not meeting the definition to meeting it by just moving them further apart.

Re:But wait... (1, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44307425)

Remember, Pluto was only a "planet" because we didn't realize it was an instance of a much larger class of KBOs.

No, Pluto was a planet because it was a predicted discovery - it was named a planet before it was discovered. Percival Lowell calculated a possible path for "the missing planet" based on what looked like discrepancies in Neptune's orbit.

Clyde Tombaugh then found "it", and was convinced it was Lowell's Planet X. That what he found near where the incorrect calculations pointed wasn't going to have any noticeable effect on Neptune's orbit didn't stop Lowell Observatory and the press from calling it a planet. Remember that this was Rah-Rah-Amerikah, and one shouldn't let pesky things like facts stand in the way of self-aggrandizement and national pride.

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307843)

Remember, Pluto was only a "planet" because we didn't realize it was an instance of a much larger class of KBOs.

No, Pluto was a planet because it was a predicted discovery - it was named a planet before it was discovered. Percival Lowell calculated a possible path for "the missing planet" based on what looked like discrepancies in Neptune's orbit.

Clyde Tombaugh then found "it", and was convinced it was Lowell's Planet X. That what he found near where the incorrect calculations pointed wasn't going to have any noticeable effect on Neptune's orbit didn't stop Lowell Observatory and the press from calling it a planet. Remember that this was Rah-Rah-Amerikah, and one shouldn't let pesky things like facts stand in the way of self-aggrandizement and national pride.

Cite please.

Re:But wait... (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#44308809)

Cite please.

No. Do your own homework. Googling "pluto discovery" should give you boatloads of material.

As for the part you bolded, you cited that just fine.

Re:But wait... (3, Interesting)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#44308639)

There was no astronomical definition for "planet" at the time. Nationalism had nothing to do with it. I'm sure just about any nation is pleased when their scientists make discoveries, and with the knowledge at the time and high popularity of astronomy with the public the response was to be expected. You're looking at this through the lens of a modern elitist.

Re:But wait... (2, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44306205)

A cheek?

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306221)

So what you are saying is ... that's no moon?

Re: it's a trap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306287)

I came here to say "that's no moon!" but you beat me to it.

Re: it's a trap (1)

jefe7777 (411081) | about a year ago | (#44307325)

That's no comment!

Re:But wait... (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#44306245)

The IAU uses "moon" and "natural satellite" synonymously, which in this context refers to any natural body in a bound orbit of Neptune. I'm not sure why you think a 20km rock would fail to meet that definition.

Re:But wait... (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year ago | (#44306421)

So you are saying it is a no-go? Damn it, I had a lot of fun last time I was at the assembly in Prague. Since I am solar system specialist, for sure I would have had budget from my employer to go to Honolulu in 2015 but I guess you just ruined everything...

http://www.iau.org/public/themes/pluto/ [iau.org]
http://www.iau.org/science/meetings/future/general_assemblies/1024/ [iau.org]
http://astronomy2015.org/ [astronomy2015.org]

Re:But wait... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#44308131)

See if you can start an argument over whether "stable orbit" is properly defined given the many-body problem. I figure that's got at least one good weekend symposium in it.

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44309999)

Stable orbit is easy to define, as it is about timescales and such timescales are pretty obvious in several fields of science. The only problem is there would be more than one such timescale, but it would at least be a very small, finite number. It would probably come down to either "Stable orbit: an orbit that does not change significantly before the current IAU members retire," or "Stable orbit: an orbit that does not change significantly on the timescale of a PhD thesis."

Re:But wait... (1)

BrentNewland (2832905) | about a year ago | (#44306333)

How about specifying it must have enough gravity to make it round to be called a moon and not just a satellite?

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306387)

How about specifying it must have enough gravity to make it round to be called a moon and not just a satellite?

First specify round.

Re:But wait... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306601)

Moon shaped!

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306929)

It is a function of more than just gravity. Time is a pretty vital factor as well not to mention the substance the satellite consists of. Besides, not even the very planet we live on is particularly round so why should an orbiting object have to be "round" to be called a moon if the definition of a planet isn't that it should be round either.

Re:But wait... (4, Informative)

ibwolf (126465) | about a year ago | (#44307271)

How about specifying it must have enough gravity to make it round to be called a moon and not just a satellite?

That would reduce the number of moons in the solar system rather dramatically. Mars, for example, would no longer have any "moons" as neither Phobos nor Deimos meet this definition. In fact both Phobos (11.1 km) and Deimos (6.2 km) are smaller than this newly discovered moon of Neptune (20 km).

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44309385)

How about specifying it must have enough gravity to make it round to be called a moon and not just a satellite?

If we use that criteria then we don't have a moon either. And if we extend the criteria of "round" to planets, the Earth is no longer a planet. In fact, the only thing you can reliably claim is "round" would be a singularity, everything else is deformed to some degree. The Earth, for example, is actually egg-shaped, not round.

Re:But wait... (4, Funny)

evilviper (135110) | about a year ago | (#44306453)

Too small to call it a moon, huh? Well... how about a "planet-orbiiting object" or "poo" for short?

As in, Neptune has a bit of poo right over there... Scientists suspect it came out of the moon.

Re:But wait... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306903)

would have been MUCH better if it had been around Uranus...

Re:But wait... (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year ago | (#44307605)

+1 Obvious but Necessary

Re:But wait... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306837)

That's no moon..

Re:But wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307247)

Pluto is not planet not becaouse of the size. The change in the deffinition stated that planet is an object witch clears is orbith path / has clear orbith path (or something like that). So the reason for removing the planet status from Pluto was the eleptical orbit witch goes throu the Oort cloud...

Re:But wait... (1)

Muros (1167213) | about a year ago | (#44309957)

Pluto was the eleptical orbit witch

I always knew orbital mechanics was a dark art.

Re:But wait... (1)

kryliss (72493) | about a year ago | (#44308123)

As the title reads... New moon found orbiting Neptune.

Not Pluto.

Re:But wait... (1)

zeroryoko1974 (2634611) | about a year ago | (#44309481)

That's no moon...that's your momma

Next up: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306173)

New 20km wide crack found on Uranus.

Meh.... (3, Insightful)

yo303 (558777) | about a year ago | (#44306181)

I like our moon better.

But honestly I have not been to either.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306281)

I think Neptune's moon, or at least its surface, is cooler.

Re:Meh.... (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#44306297)

Our moon doesn't even have a name.
Neptunes are called "Larissa", "Proteus" or even "S/2004 N1", ours is just called "moon".
It's like living in "country" in the village of "village" in a house on "street" or naming all your offspring "child".

well (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306321)

Neil Armstrong commonly referred to it as 'Luna' and if anyone should know its proper name, it would be him

Re:well (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306787)

He didn't refer to the moon by name. He referred to it with the Latin word for it. In science, you know, Latin is pretty often used... :)

Re:well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310033)

In science, you know, Latin is pretty often used... :)

Latin is pretty common in science, except for when referring to the Sun and the Moon in English language journal articles...

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306381)

It's more like calling your city "Rome", and then discovering that there are other Romes in the world.

Re: Meh.... (2)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44306425)

... Luna isn't proper enough for you?

Re: Meh.... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#44306445)

Same problem non-name in a different language.
""The moon is a moon" in English is "La luna es una luna" in Spanish.
(I trust Google translate is good enough not to mess up the spanish in this simple sentence).

Re: Meh.... (1)

oobayly (1056050) | about a year ago | (#44306543)

I don't get the point you're making about the translation. Are you saying that google translate should be able to pick up the nuance in that sentence and return a different word for moon if the Spanish use different words for our moon and a moon?

You're general point is interesting though - are there any languages that do use different words for the two?

Re: Meh.... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44306593)

You're general point is interesting though - are there any languages that do use different words for the two?

That's not very likely, seeing as the generic term is derived from the original proper name.

Re: Meh.... (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about a year ago | (#44306629)

Same problem non-name in a different language.
""The moon is a moon" in English is "La luna es una luna" in Spanish.
(I trust Google translate is good enough not to mess up the spanish in this simple sentence).

But, "Luna es una luna" is not just Spanish, "Luna" is latin, it just happens to be spelt the same way as a Spanish word.

Re: Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44309485)

Right. Because Spanish isnt a Romance language or anything.

Re: Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44309707)

Same problem non-name in a different language.
""The moon is a moon" in English is "La luna es una luna" in Spanish.
(I trust Google translate is good enough not to mess up the spanish in this simple sentence).

That's because the Spanish word for "Moon" comes directly from the Latin, whereas the English word "moon" comes from Germanic roots.

In Roman mythology, Luna was the goddess of the moon (Selene to the Greeks), so if we keep with astronomical naming traditions either of those would be correct names.

And just FYI, google failed you. In order to properly illustrate the concept, the English version of "La Luna es una luna" would translate to "The Moon is a satellite".
Or put another way, it's like if you named your dog "Dog" instead of actually coming up with a name for it.

Re:Meh.... (0)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year ago | (#44306501)

At least it has a dark side. I wonder how many moons have a dark side in the solar system. Meaning, rotation period around its planet equals rotation period on itself.

Re:Meh.... (1)

AlecC (512609) | about a year ago | (#44306647)

Dark in "Dark Side of the Moon" means "unknown", in the same sense as "Darkest Africa" or "Dark Arts". Nobody thought the sun didn't rise in unexplored Africa - though there seems to be a convention that Dark Arts are practised at night in dark robes.

Hey, if I do my Dark Spells on the beach in a Hawaiian shirt, maybe nobody will notice. World domination, here I come!

Re:Meh.... (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#44307307)

There is no Dark Side of the Moon really...
Matter of fact its all dark...

Re:Meh.... (1)

tbird81 (946205) | about a year ago | (#44306653)

This phenomenon is called tidal locking [wikipedia.org] .

From Wikipedia:

Most significant moons in the Solar System are tidally locked with their primaries, since they orbit very closely and tidal force increases rapidly (as a cubic) with decreasing distance. Notable exceptions are the irregular outer satellites of the gas giant planets, which orbit much farther away than the large well-known moons.

Pluto and Charon are an extreme example of a tidal lock. Charon is a relatively large moon in comparison to its primary and also has a very close orbit. This has made Pluto also tidally locked to Charon. In effect, these two celestial bodies revolve around each other (their barycenter lies outside of Pluto) as if joined with a rod connecting two opposite points on their surfaces.

The tidal locking situation for asteroid moons is largely unknown, but closely orbiting binaries are expected to be tidally locked, as well as contact binaries.

Re:Meh.... (3, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | about a year ago | (#44306633)

Or living on a lump of earth called "Earth" orbiting a sun called "Sun" in a universe called "the Universe".

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306849)

So how come we have a name for our galaxy?

The Milky Way

Re:Meh.... (1)

AlecC (512609) | about a year ago | (#44306881)

Due to sitting inside it, rather than on or outside it, it had a name bases on its appearance seen from the inside long before we realised that there wer other similar things, which we saw from the outside. Though "galaxy" is only "Milky Way" in Latin.

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307741)

Though "galaxy" is only "Milky Way" in Latin.

Only if Andromeda is also a Milky Way.

Re:Meh.... (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#44306931)

Our moon doesn't even have a name.

Yes it does - it's called 'The Moon'! :)

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307789)

That is an interesting point. Many languages spell different words the same way, even in cases where the pronunciation is different.
Since "Moon" means a different thing than "moon", is it really correct to claim that it is the same word or is it just a homonym the way bow can mean both an action and an object?

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307841)

...And everybody is there

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307703)

It's like living in "country" in the village of "village" in a house on "street" or naming all your offspring "child".

It's been done. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44309455)

Our moon doesn't even have a name.
Neptunes are called "Larissa", "Proteus" or even "S/2004 N1", ours is just called "moon".
It's like living in "country" in the village of "village" in a house on "street" or naming all your offspring "child".

In English we just call it the Moon, but the Scientific (aka- Latin) name is Luna. Selena is also acceptable, although less well-known and not often used these days.
Along the same lines, in English we just call our star "the Sun", but its name is actually "Sol".

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310145)

but the Scientific (aka- Latin) name is Luna. Selena is also acceptable

That isn't the scientific name, that is just at best a sci-fi name, as that seems to be the only place it gets regular use. The IAU recommends using whatever local language name for "moon," i.e. Moon in English, or Luna in Spanish. And this is what I've seen in astronomy papers, they use Moon and Sun. Selena is not an acceptable alternative, and neither is the slightly more correct spelling Selene, as that is just Moon in Greek. Just because there are adjective forms lunar, selenic, or solar does not mean their names have to be the same (Venus was not renamed when Cytherean became a popular adjective form).

Re:Meh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310443)

No. Our moon has a name: Moon. It was called Moon long before we knew of other moons. The word "moon" comes from the name "Moon", not the other way around. This would in fact be closer to calling all children "child" because the name of your first child was "Child".

Re:Meh.... (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year ago | (#44310207)

Me too. The tidal forces it creates makes Earth a far more diverse place. And interestingly enough, there are biological rythms based on it. There are no other planets in our solar system with such a significant moon.

S/2004 N1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306185)

"S/2004 N1" means the first Satellite of Neptute found in 2004.
So, this is more a confirmation than a discovery...

Re:S/2004 N1 (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#44306273)

It was identified using data that was originally gathered in 2004-2009, but it was only found this year; it would appear that by convention the earliest data indicating its presence provides the discovery date, regardless of when the data was actually looked at.

Larissa... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306199)

cute name for a moon. [google.com]

Re:Larissa... (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#44306335)

There was a moon in that search result?

Look he is heading for that small moon. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306217)

That's no moon. It's a space station.

Not a "new" moon at all.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306255)

I betcha it's actually quite old.

New Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306457)

In 13 days it will be full.

Re:New Moon (1)

ringman8567 (895757) | about a year ago | (#44307013)

The orbital period 23 is hours. so full in 11.5 hours.

Planets and moons are just objects (4, Interesting)

bytesex (112972) | about a year ago | (#44306537)

Thinking of 'planets' and 'moons' is all nineteenth century 'science' - the edge of ascribing to God's plan and capturing everything observable in orderly lists, so that school-children have something to recite in groups: five continents, five senses, five races, seven seas, seven wonders of the ancient world, order species genus family class kingdom, and nine planets.

In reality, things don't work out that way.

Re:Planets and moons are just objects (5, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#44306609)

Capturing everything observable in orderly lists (based on the mechanics of the underlying model) is science. Calling planets and moons "objects" is akin to discovering more and more kinds of atoms and particles and deciding to call everything just "stuff" because it doesn't fit your model anymore. The right answer is to rethink the definitions and perhaps alter the model. The distinction between planets and moons is still a useful one even if we found a few cases where we're not sure how we should classify them.

Re:Planets and moons are just objects (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#44306761)

Yes, but surely trying to classify everything into well defined groups comes up with some problem. Pluto is no longer a planet because we decided later to change the definition of planet to things that are actually big enough to clear out any other debris in their orbit. But when you compare on other traits, Pluto is more similar to Earth than Jupiter is to Earth. Jupiter doesn't even have a well defined solid surface. To put Jupiter and Earth in the same class but then leave out Pluto because of some certain criteria seems a little odd. This is the problem, we try to stick stuff in groups, but then those groups end up being hard to define because there's so much stuff out there that doesn't fit into any of the defined groups, or fits into what are supposed to be 2 or 3 distinct groups.

Re:Planets and moons are just objects (1)

bytesex (112972) | about a year ago | (#44306961)

Right then. So 'objects' are out. Does 'celestial bodies' work for ya? Oh, and you mention that 'the distinction between planets and moons is still a useful one' - can you give an example?

Re:Planets and moons are just objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307109)

Right then. So 'objects' are out. Does 'celestial bodies' work for ya? Oh, and you mention that 'the distinction between planets and moons is still a useful one' - can you give an example?

To the Moon, Alice!

Re:Planets and moons are just objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44309071)

Why "celestial bodies?" How are they any different than Mount Everest or the hypothetical rock outside my window?

Re:Planets and moons are just objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310249)

Oh, and you mention that 'the distinction between planets and moons is still a useful one' - can you give an example?

Any modeling of solar system evolution after planet formation, e.g. being concerned with capture rates of moons by planets, or using that as a estimate of properties of things like KBOs, or studying orbital stability, or studying the environment around gas giants which can be largely influence or diagnosed by moons. Those would all function with out a word "moon" and instead just use "object orbiting a planet." But sometimes it is a lot more convenient to have concise, specific words, unless you are trying to advocate a minimalistic language like Simple English or New Speak.

Re:Planets and moons are just objects (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44308103)

defining that it goes around another object in a trajectory that it goes is more useful than knowing if it's a planet, moon, asteroid, comet or what.

just like it's better about a car to know how fast it is and how well it turns than it is to know if was labeled a sports car when it was sold.

Re:Planets and moons are just objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306825)

Thinking of 'planets' and 'moons' is all nineteenth century 'science' - the edge of ascribing to God's plan and capturing everything observable in orderly lists, so that school-children have something to recite in groups: five continents, five senses, five races, seven seas, seven wonders of the ancient world, order species genus family class kingdom, and nine planets.

In reality, things don't work out that way.

Maybe, maybe not: but I'd rather have people memorize some basic facts so they have some data points to hang their sense of reality off of, rather than trying to teach them something more complicated that does not stick so they have no sense of reality whatsoever.

Re:Planets and moons are just objects (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#44306827)

Bullshit! People need something to relate to. You have to put fantastic phenomena in terms they understand. I'm wondering where your brain spends its time if the first thing you come up with is this sad idea. So schoolchildren can recite lists? WTF dude, you're wrong.

Re:Planets and moons are just objects (0)

bytesex (112972) | about a year ago | (#44306945)

I remember having a discussion with my biology teacher: he claimed that humans don't have instinct - none, and why? Because the definition of 'instinct' involved stating that it didn't apply to humans. That's what these lists are: a way to win a discussion and if you can't win it, you just change the rules.

Yes, people need something they can relate to. Sure. But I'm not so sure that it would hurt if things were taught a little bit more to their specific merits: I remember how distraught I was when I learned (on my own BTW) that you could never walk on the surface of Jupiter. Why not? It's a planet after all!

They made a mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44306621)

It's actually just Uranus, but you lost a lot of weight so they didn't recognize it.

New Moon Found Orbiting Neptune? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307207)

Oh, god, not even the aliens are safe from Stephenie Meyer's literature!

I don't mean to troll but... (1)

trickstyhobbit (2713163) | about a year ago | (#44307297)

It's not exactly a "new moon." It's just that nobody knew it was there before. I saw another headline that said "Neptune has a new moon" but I'm sure it's been there for billions of years. I'm just sayin'...

Re:I don't mean to troll but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44310653)

What makes you so sure it wasn't recently captured by Neptune?

That's no moon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307361)

It's a space station!

Trekkies (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about a year ago | (#44307427)

No, it is not going to be called "Vulcan".

Re:Trekkies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44309279)

the Trekkies need to wait till we can do a planetary survey of Epsilon Eridani.

That is where Vulcan is supposed to be in the first place.

new moon ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44307677)

Thats not a moon.... Thats a Space Station !!!!

That's no moon... (1)

JoshDM (741866) | about a year ago | (#44309779)

... almost 12 hours till someone said it? Really?

That's no moon... (1)

eap (91469) | about a year ago | (#44310755)

well, maybe it is.

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