Friday, June 22, 2012

Earth, Sun, Planets, Moons

On this day in 1633, Galileo Galilei is found guilty of heresy for his view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe and would spend the rest of his life under house arrest.

File:Justus Sustermans - Portrait of Galileo Galilei, 1636.jpg,_1636.jpg

On this day in 1978, an American astronomer working at the U.S. Naval Observatory, discovers a new moon orbiting planet Pluto.

James Christy, while reexamining photographic plates marked poor quality because of an elongated image of Pluto, thought he saw something different. Using his previous experience of photographing double stars, Christy began to examine more of the defective plates and came upon the idea that what he was looking at was the slight image of yet another moon orbiting the planet.

Going back into the observatory archives of photographs, Christy finds more of these marked photos and noticed that the slight elongation appeared with regularity and corresponded to Pluto's rotation, making his theory of a new moon even more possible. The proof would come when Pluto and the possible moon would make a series of eclipses and transits that would occur twice in Pluto's 248 year orbit around the sun. Fortunately for Christy this would occur between 1985 and 1990.

In 1990 images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope showed Pluto and the moon resolved into separate disks proving Christy's theory.

1990 photograph of Pluto and Charon. Taken by the Hubble Telescope.

1994 image of Pluto and Charon (right) from ESA/Dornier FOC on the NASA Hubble

Back in 1978, Christy suggested the moon be named Charon after his wife Charlene's nickname, "Char".

Charon also happens to be the name of the ferryman of the dead of Greek mythology, who brings souls across the river Styx in the underworld ruled by the god Hades, whom the Romans identified with their god Pluto.

Unfortunately, the future was not so bright for the new moon of Pluto. Controversy began regarding Pluto's status as a planet and when the The Hayden Planetarium reopened after a renovation in 2000 it displayed a model of only eight planets. In 2006 Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet and Charon, a satellite of it.

The Historical Inebriant:  The Charon          


1 oz Vodka
1 oz Cherry Brandy
1 oz Orange Juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a glass.


June is LBGT Pride Month

As always, have a great and safe weekend, see you all on Monday!

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