Pluto, plutoids.. and telescopes

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) attempt to spare Pluto’s blushes after its 2006 annus horribilis – by defining all transneptunian dwarf planets as plutoids – hasn’t gone down well with those still honking for its return to full planet status, as the BBC reports here.

Alan Stern, a former Nasa space sciences chief and principal investigator on a mission to Pluto, was scathing in his condemnation of the IAU. “It’s just some people in a smoke-filled room who dreamed it up,” he told the Associated Press. “Plutoids or haemorrhoids, whatever they call it. This is irrelevant.”

Meanwhile, Phoenix has, finally, got an oven full of Martian soil.. And, speaking of optics, NASA have launched a new space telescope – The Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope GLAST. All of which, telescopes included, allows me to quote from Robert Hooke’s preface to his 1665 publication Micrographia

‘Tis not unlikely, but that there may be yet invented several other helps for the eye, as much exceeding those already found, as those do the bare eye, such as we may perhaps be able to discover living Creatures in the Moon, or other Planets, the figures of the compounding Particles of matter, and the particular Schematisms and Textures of Bodies.

, ,

  • Hogan


  • joeCanuck


    I take it that you’re having an afternoon nap so you can stay up late to look at the skies.

  • Pete Baker

    Feel free to move along to another post, Hogan.

    Or indeed another site.

  • percy

    dya think people look outside themselves, to the stars perhaps, because looking inside is painful?

    Do people look for answers outside; for often when they look within, they remark ” I can’t see anything”

    Can one sit on the pot and look at the stars, or is it best to get off the pot first?

  • joeCanuck

    If you have an outside loo with a clear view, multitasking is the way to go. (excuse the pun)

  • Pete Baker


    If I was you I’d worry about your internal view.

    As for mine?

    Well, to quote Oscar, “We’re all in the gutter..”

    And back to the topic.

    Someone, somewhere, must have an on-topic comment..

  • joeCanuck

    OK, Pete.
    I think plutoid is a big improvement over “sorry, you’re not a planet anymore”.

  • Pete Baker

    Actually Joe, I’m with Alan Stern on this –

    “Plutoids or haemorrhoids, whatever they call it. This is irrelevant.”

  • susan

    Hogan’s posts are really evolving over time.

    I like the phrase “plutoid.” I always thought there was something sort of oxymoronic about the phrase “dwarf planet”. It’s like the phrase “hot dwarf” — hard to carry off convincingly.

    I would think we were bound to learn something from the Martian soil, but I guess I better click on the link first.

  • Pete Baker


    “I like the phrase “plutoid.” I always thought there was something sort of oxymoronic about the phrase “dwarf planet”. It’s like the phrase “hot dwarf”—hard to carry off convincingly.”


    Although I’m not sure Alan Stern would be any happier with “Asteroid pretending to be a planet”.

  • joeCanuck

    Well , Pete, there’s an old joke of which I’ll only give the last three lines:
    So he said “What are you gonna call your new wean?”
    And the Jew replied “Nathan”.
    To which the Ballymena man said “Don’t be stupid. You haft to call the wean somfing.”

  • susan

    Stern has issues, Pete.

    Joe, I suffered similiar confusion a few days ago with the phrase, “Don’t tase me, bro.” Couldn’t understand how anyone thought I was just “teasing” when I was clearly incensed.

  • Pete Baker

    “Stern has issues, Pete.”


    As does Hogan..


    How about Robert Hooke’s 1665 quote?

  • susan

    I thought it was most eerily prescient for 1665, Pete.

    Clearly more going on there than just another hair band. :0)

  • susan

    I am sorry, Pete. I really tried to say something on-topic but I’m feeling a bit light-headed.

  • percy

    Great Quote peteb; he had the imagination and foresight of Da Vinci.
    Despite the gentle mocking, I’ve been watching the Sky at Night for over 10yrs now, and almost never miss it.
    I suppose your particular antipathy to Supernaturalism makes you an open target on starry matters, its kinda quirky; and makes me think of telescopes and microscopes and the whole “vision thing”.
    What do we see? Why do we look? and so on.

    “We’re all in the gutter..”
    reminds me of an alcoholic who gave a talk I went to, who said the day he quit, was when lying in a gutter plastered, a passing dog pissed on him!!

    Oh and did you hear about the redneck who said:
    If I sit here any longer I’m gonna have me one severe case of asteroids…

  • Greenflag

    joecanuck .

    Bally mean ans 🙂 dinna say ‘somfing’ sounds more like a cockney – Good one lol though it may be lost on those who fail the nathan pronunciation test 🙂

  • Greenflag

    Percy ,

    “We’re all in the gutter..”

    Speak for yourself but the the line did remind me of how you can tell the difference between a drunken Irishman and a drunken Scot.

    After the pubs are closed the former can be seen crawling along in the gutter on all fours whereas the latter is the lad lying face down and prostrate beside him doing the breaststroke.

  • Greenflag

    susan ,

    ‘ I thought it was most eerily prescient for 1665,’

    Indeed it was and still is for 2008 . Hogan may want to link to micrographia pages 211-213 where his appearance is foretold by Richard Hooke on page 211 .

    Observ. LIV. Of a louse, pp. 211-213

    S was of course written differently in Restoration Age English . It looks like our modern F minus the mid letter crossing

    The word sucker initially looks out of place 🙂

  • Pete Baker

    Clearly more going on there than just another hair band. :0)

    Indeed, susan.

    Quite the fella was Mr Hooke.

    In Micrographia he speculated about the strength of gravity on the Moon – and he corresponded with Newton about the principle of universal gravity, Hooke could be credited with suggesting that principle to Newton. They didn’t get along particularly well, though, and Newton removed all references to Hooke and his work from Newton’s Principia before it was printed.

    Hooke also designed most of the experimental demonstrations, as one of the first paid researchers, for the early Royal Society.

    And he was heavily involved in the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666.

  • joeCanuck

    There have been two recent biographies. The one I bought is “The Man who Knew Too Much, The Strange and Inventive life of Robert Hooke”, by Stephen Inwood.
    I can highly recommend it. The other one got good reviews too.

  • Pete Baker


    I recommended a couple of other Hooke biographies here.

    London’s Leonardo: The Life and Work of Robert Hooke – Jim Bennett, Michael Cooper, Michael Hunter, Lisa Jardine

    The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man Who Measured London – Lisa Jardine

    The Man Who Knew Too Much: The Inventive Life of Robert Hooke, 1635 – 1703 – Stephen Inwood.

    And, yes I’ve read all three.

    He’s one of Those [Royal Society] Guys!

  • joeCanuck


    Yes, an amazing man, really not well known partly due to Newton’s machinations.
    Is there sufficient different information in the other two books for me to read?

  • Pete Baker

    Probably not, Joe.

    Unless you’re an obsessive. ;o)

    Btw, Westfall’s a good go-to-guy on Newton [that’s the abridged version of Never at Rest]

    Although James Gleick’s is a good read too.

  • susan

    wondrous stuff, boys. Many. many thanks. Hard to read about Hooke’s insights without reaching for the word “inspired.”

    Much more elevating to think about today while I wait for the doctor to figure out why I feel as though I’m spending too much time standing on my head than the Lisbon vote. I promise I won’t chirp in again without reading through at least three links.


  • Pete Baker

    Chirp away, susan. ;o)