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With A Little Luck From Our Friends February 20, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in nostalgia, space, Wild West.
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Tyche. Means luck in Greek. Might mean another planet in the solar system, too, out there screwing around in the Oort Cloud. (Isn’t that such a great name? Oooooort? Sounds made up.) But the planet is exceptional, if it’s even there (unlike Pluto, which is still a planet dammit, Tyche hasn’t been sighted yet.)

In a way this is like the 19th century all over again. Neptune was discovered in 1846 and only eight planets were out there until Tombaugh in the 20th century found Pluto. It was a long stretch of empty heavens then and now we’re on our way to piling up the planetary count again. Neptune is (was?) the 4th largest planet in the Solar System. Tyche might be four times the size of Jupiter and maybe is also that mysterious Nemesis that has been suggested as causing all manner of trouble on Earth, including being a failed attempt at making this a binary star system.

And of course there is Sedna.

The new planets abound! But now we can have in-space looks with a variety of scopes. Hubble and WISE and Kepler. Back in the old west there was only the optical telescope and a lot of eyeball work coupled with primitive photographic techniques.

None of these are like the Lowell Observatory, which was super up to date in the 1800s and now seems primitive (it has been upgraded to modern standards, but it is, after all, at the bottom of a gravity well filled with atmosphere).

The age of discovery continues. After all, they are guessing at 50 million “goldilocks” planets in the Milky Way. That’s like us, folks. What would Percival Lowell have said about that?

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