Tag Archives: Uranus

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Vulcan: the planet that never was

This blog has frequently lamented the demotion of Pluto. After being expelled from the company of planets, it now resides in the newly-named Plutoids, in the company of Eris, Sedna and other dwarf planets. Another one-time planet suffered a worse, and lonelier, fate one hundred years ago.

The planet Vulcan came into (theoretical) being as a solution to the problem of Mercury‘s orbit, which deviated from the track that Newton’s laws laid down for it. Continue reading

Uranus: the mould-breaker

(excerpted from my book, Sun, Moon and Stars)

The seventh planet dealt a serious blow to old ideas about the universe. From the beginning, Uranus lived up to its association with innovation and technology. When William Herschel found Uranus in 1781, he used an exciting new technology, the telescope.

Galileo had built an early telescope himself, with which he saw the moons of Jupiter in 1610, but by the 1700s the telescope was in use not only in astronomy but also in the shipping industry and the military.

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Regulus: the Lion’s Heart

The easiest way to spot the constellation Leo in the sky is to look for the Sickle, shaped like a backwards question mark. Regulus is the dot of the question mark. It is a bluish star, and it can be seen all around the globe. It is the 22nd brightest star, although the 21st, Alpha Centauri, is not much brighter than it is. Regulus is not a binary star for once, although there is a binary nearby, and possibly a white dwarf.

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