Babe Among The Stars: Planetary Playmates

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Galaxy Babe's column banner, showing a full moon and some little folk looking up at the sky

Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy

Planetary Playmates

The two additional moons detected orbiting Pluto have been given names connected with the mythological underworld. Kerberos was chosen for P4 and Styx for P5, after the hellhound guard dog and the river dividing the world of the living from the land of the dead respectively.

I had been writing up Neptune's moons for the Edited Guide - I finished my entry and submitted it to Peer Review on 14 July. At that time there were 13 Neptunian moons, the last one discovered in 2003. Imagine my surprise to be informed in the Peer Review conversation that a 14th moon had been detected that month and it had only just been announced! I'm indebted to Elektragheorgheni for the heads-up! I've tweaked the article now and just awaiting the IAU's decision on the name, which has to be connected with the Roman god of the sea. At the time of writing, 18 July, Neptune XIV remains unnamed. I'd like to guess that Thetis, the leader of the Nereids and mother of Achilles, might be chosen.

Perseids at APOD

This month sees the best (hopefully!) meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, which are remains left behind from the passing of comet Swift-Tuttle. The Astronomy Picture of the Day website (APOD) has provided us with a wealth of wonderful images over the years, both in space and Earth-bound. How people manage to capture photos of meteors is beyond me. They are so quick that even if you're looking in the right direction you wouldn't have time to aim and capture it with an ordinary, hand-held camera. I'm no digital wizard so I'll let you relish these images and just wonder, like me, how they were snapped for our delectation.

August 2013 Diary Dates

  • 03: The Moon is 4° south of Jupiter
  • 04: The Moon is 5° south of Mars
  • 04: Mercury passes 7° south of Pollux (beta Geminorium)
  • 05: The Moon is 4° south of Mercury
  • 06: New Moon
  • 09: The Moon is 5° south of Venus
  • 11: The Moon and Spica (alpha Virginis) are less than a degree apart
  • 12: Perseid meteor shower peak
  • 13: The Moon is 3° south of Saturn
  • 21: Full Moon - the Sturgeon or Fruit Moon
  • 21: The Moon is 6° north of Neptune
  • 24: The Moon is 3° north of Uranus
  • 31: The Moon is 4° south of Jupiter

  • Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.

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