On Things that go Suck in the Night

I tease that planetary formation is a delightfully broken science, one where every exoplanet we discover seems to poke an unpatchable hole in the latest and greatest theory.

In contrast, I am astounded by the beautifully precise mechanics of orbital dynamics, a science that had its last greatest breakthrough with Kepler hundreds of years ago. The story of tidal motion cracking Europa’s ice crust brought me great delight when I first saw it (technically here) — a theory that can be so simple yet so exactly modeling our observations can only be described as graceful. I love it.

So I admit that the latest “exoplanet breaks rules as we know them!” caught me a bit by surprise when it wasn’t the planetary formation mucking about, but the orbital evolution.

And while we’re talking about astronomical bodies, the joy that is LookUp now has a twitter account for tweeting an object (@lookupastro Mars) and it will tweet back the current position and a link to more info (Mars (Planet) is at RA 06:05:01.232 dec 23:33:06.130 More info http://bit.ly/eQ0dy) Admittedly, it’s only really usefully for the sort of folk who have a twitter account set up with their cellphone, but I can see it leading to all sorts of impromptu object-hunting during the next observation night at my university.

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