Friday, September 15, 2006

Earth, Meet Eris
Pluto's slightly bigger rival and the chief architect of demoting #134340 from planethood got a name this week. The celestial object formerly known as Xena (with moon formerly known as Gabrielle) will now be called Eris. The moon was named Dysnomia.
Discoverer Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, said the name was an obvious choice, calling it "too perfect to resist."
If you have a good backyard telescope, you might be able to see Eris. Wikipedia reports:
The object currently has an apparent magnitude of about 19, making it bright enough to be detectable even in some amateur telescopes. While it would be a difficult object to spot visually, a telescope with an 8" lens or mirror and a CCD can image Eris in dark skies.[12] The reason it had not been noticed until now is because of its steep orbital inclination: most searches for large outer solar system objects concentrate on the ecliptic plane, in which most solar system material is found.
Eris was the Greek goddess of chaos and strife. If she were a Christian saint, she could be the patron of the blogosphere. Dysnomia was her mythological daughter, a spirit of lawlessness.

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