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Week 29


Special Topic: Pluto

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JULY 12, 2001: American astronomer Gary Melnick and his colleagues publish their discovery of water vapor around the old, evolved star CW Leonis, suggesting the presence of exocomets around that star. The subject of exocomets, including the importance of this discovery, is discussed in a previous “Special Topics” presentation.  JULY 12, 2126: Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, the …

Perihelion: 1994 April 18.57, q = 5.380 AU  What could perhaps be considered the most successful search program for comets and near-Earth asteroids during the photographic era, i.e., before the advent of CCD-based comprehensive survey programs in the late 1990s, was conducted by renowned planetary geologist Eugene Shoemaker from 1982 to 1994. Usually once a …

The discovery of the planet Uranus by British astronomer William Herschel in 1781 essentially doubled the size of the then-known solar system. During the years after Uranus’ discovery astronomers began to notice small discrepancies in its orbital motion, and at least two individuals – a young British astronomer named John Adams, and a French mathematician, …