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Say hello to our little friend!

2012 VP 113, just to the right of center and shown in color to demonstrate motion.

2012 VP 113, just to the right of center and shown in color to demonstrate motion.

So here we are again, friends…sorry that it’s been so long since the last blog, but a lot has been going on lately and it’s had our attention on other things.

How many of you remember Arthur C. Clarke’s book (and movie) 2010: The Year We Make Contact?

It had 2 themes, as I recall – science (of course) and political relations.

As you most likely know by now, relations between the US and Russia are not the best right now. In fact, they’re not unlike the relations Clarke portrays in his writing. It’s also getting enough attention from other sources that I’m not going to delve into it any further here, except to say that scientists are supposed to be smarter than that.

So what does that leave?

Science (which is what scientists should be concerning themselves with in the first place). While we’ve not confirmed life on any of Jupiter’s moons, we did make a great discovery of another kind recently.

What was discovered?

That would be 2012 VP113, a dwarf planet like Pluto.

Personal side note: Pluto is still a planet by tradition – take that, Mike Brown!

Informally referred to as “VP”, it was discovered on March 26th, 2014 by Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in northern Chile.

But wait! If it was discovered in 2014, why does it have a 2012 designation? Because it was observed for 2 years before scientists were certain of what it is. The initial observation actually occured on November 5th, 2012.

What sets VP apart, though, is the size of its orbital path. Right now, it’s about 83 AU’s from the Sun, giving it the largest orbit of any known object in the Solar System. That distance makes it a potential member of the Kuiper Belt, and definitely a Trans-Neptunian Object (TNO). Some scientists even speculate that it might be a captured Rogue Planet.

What I’m really hoping comes from this, however, is that it leads the IAU to reverse the previous ruling and give Pluto back planet status.

Wow, Steve…single-minded much?

Hey, now…leave me my dream!

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