Thursday, July 02, 2015

Double Planet

With the spacecraft New Horizons on its final approach, Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, are very quickly becoming places. In the latest images, Pluto looks rather like a sketch of Mars as seen though Percival Lowell's telescope, with huge patches of dark and light shades, and the Earth's Moon apparently in orbit around it. In fact, because Charon is relatively large, and so close to Pluto, that the two bodies wobble around a common barycenter located just outside Pluto: a miniature double planet. Strange new worlds we're about to see up close for the first time.


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