Friday, June 29, 2007

Me and My Solar System

Reading that Jupiter is changing its stripes got me to thinking about how much I love astronomy but how little I know about it. I remember there is some sort of mnemonic (yes I had to look that up) that helps you remember them but I don't remember any of them.

Let me see how many I can name:

Earth - Is that cheating?
Mars - Martians ate my homework.
Jupiter - Did you hear that its stripes are changing?
Venus - She was hot in mythology.
Pluto - Not a planet anymore.
Uranus - Haha I said your anus!

That is all. I'm missing another big one. Now let me go cheat on wikipedia.

(A few minutes later.)

I did better than I thought while missing some that I shouldn't have. The list is:
1. (☿) Mercury
2. (♀) Venus *
3. (⊕) Earth *
4. (♂) Mars *
5. (♃) Jupiter *
6. (♄) Saturn
7. (♅) Uranus *
8. (♆) Neptune

Somehow I managed to think that Saturn was Jupiter when trying to list them. Yeah go me! I'm not sure how I missed Mercury. Being the closest to the Sun, you would think that one would stand out. Neptune I completely forgot the name of but it was the other big one I knew I was forgetting. Looks like I need to study this page on planet mnemonics.

After reading that article on Yahoo, I've spent some more time reading on wikipedia about the planets. For some reason I always think of Mars as being closer to the Sun than Earth, even though I know it isn't. One of those knee jerk reactions I guess.

Also, did you know that there is another Dwarf Planet, that is bigger than Pluto? How about the fact that there were 16 other objects that have been at one time regarded as planets? Five of those were moons of Saturn.

Here is a fact that really boggles my mind: Jupiter has at least 63 moons, one of which, Ganymede, has a diameter greater than Mercury. Titan, one of Saturns moons, is also bigger than Mercury. Jupiter is 10 times the size of the Earth and almost 318 times as massive.

Jupiter is two and a half times as massive as all the other planets combined. Crazy. I can't even comprehend how massive that must be.

I could go on but by now you have either stopped reading or you are reading the wikipedia article like I am.

Have any of you read any good books on our solar system? How about good websites?

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