I am a space nerd

 Posted by Bob the Hamster on February 5th, 2006

Current mood: dissemantic

EDIT: I wrote this post before “Xena” got its official name: Eris

I am a space nerd. Even before I started kindergarten, I had memorized the names of all the planets in the solar system. I was very excited back then about the idea of a 10th planet.

Depending on how you count, there are already 10 planets… or more… or less. The trouble is, once we got good at looking for small objects beyond Pluto, it started to become clear that the word “Planet” was becoming ambiguous. There is currently a debate in the space-nerd community over whether Pluto should lose “Planet” status, or whether a whole bunch of other big-balls-of-rock-and-ice should be added to the list of planets. Personally, I don’t care one way or the other, but the debate did get me wondering about exactly how big these objects are in a way that I can actually relate to the size. So I grabbed a screen-shot from google maps and made this diagram of how big the moon, Pluto and Xena would be if you placed them on the Earth’s surface.

I got the diameter approximation for Xena from this BBC news article. Note that Xena is not the “official” name. This This particular planet.. planetoid… planety-thing has not yet been given an official name. I don’t put much stock in official naming schemes. People who obsess about officially correct naming misunderstand an important thing about names. A name is not intended to be a universal truth. A name does not need to be unique, it does not need to be consistent, it does not even need to be agreed-upon. A name is just a word that is associated with a particular thing in a particular context.
Our most sincere apologies to the citizens of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Jamaica, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Suriname, French Guiana, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Siera Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, The Gambia, and Cape Verde, who were all crushed in the making of this illustration. I am very sorry. Our sympathy also goes out to the countless millions in other parts of the word who were killed by the ensuing mega-tidal-waves.EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that I am also a geography nerd ;)

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