October 25, 2010 - Consolation Moons
Consolation Moons Five years ago this week, a team of astronomers announced the discovery of what turned out to be two new moons orbiting Pluto in addition to its known moon, Charon. At the time, Pluto was embroiled in a worldwide debate after the July 2005 discovery of the trans-Neptunian object Eris—which was larger than Pluto—brought into question the definition of a planet. By 2006 the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto to the rank of “dwarf planet,” but throughout all of this controversy, Pluto enjoyed the company of its two “new” companions, named Nix and Hydra. In this artist’s conception, Nix and Hydra are represented by the foreground landscape and bright distant moon at lower left; Pluto is the largest disk above center; and Charon appears to the upper right of Pluto.
Image credit: NASA / ESA / G. Bacon (STScI)
October 25-31, 2010
Holidays - Sky Events - Space History
Venus in inferior conjunction
Last Quarter Moon 8:46 AM ET