Essay Example on Speculations of a planet existing beyond Neptune's Orbit

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Speculations of a planet existing beyond Neptune's orbit were crawling throughout astronomers heads for decades in the nineteenth century Scientists all thought that perhaps a Planet X exists but could not find this mysterious object Astronomers discovered this phenomena in 1930 and in one of Neil DeGrasse Tyson s fantastic reads The Pluto Files Tyson truly highlights the investigation of this mysterious planet from the very first speculations regarding Planet X to determining Pluto as a dwarf planet as it is today Tyson an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History uses a wide time frame and fantastic evidence to show the importance of Pluto's history and scientific discoveries Tyson not only taught thousands of other science professionals across the nation about Pluto s history but also myself much more than I thought I would ever know Pluto's History Tyson begins with 24 year old Clyde W Tombaugh s discovery of Planet X in the sky at about four in the afternoon on February 18 1930 Tombaugh a farm boy and amateur astronomer from Illinois had been hired by Arizona s Lowell Observatory to search for this mysterious planet 



This observatory was founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell and died in 1916 but only after starting the search for Planet X that Tombaugh would complete Lowell Observatory in Arizona publicized the news on March 13 1930 Planet X was the name for this mysterious planet until Friday March 14 1930 when Venetia Burney an 11 year old schoolgirl from Oxford England suggested the name Pluto over breakfast after her grandfather read the news about this discovery With her knowledge of Greek mythology she thought why not call it Pluto 9 The aftermath is history For so long Planet X was this partially invisible object in the outer solar system whose gravity was needed to fully measure the motions of other planets that we know today at the beginning it was just after the discovery of Uranus The first technological advance towards discovering Pluto was a tool of analysis created by the French mathematician Pierre Simon de Laplace in the late eighteenth century Laplace developed and expanded the perturbation theory which he wrote about in his treatise Mecanique Celeste These new math concepts gave astronomers an indispensable tool to analyze the small gravitational effects of an otherwise undetected celestial object 23 Laplace s newly built theory was used widely across Europe by astronomers and scientists Following his perturbation theory being published Neptune was discovered Johann Gottfried Galle Around a century later it is known that Pluto is finally discovered by Tombaugh But this just sparks the investigation to follow Scientists and astronomers wanted to know Pluto's size and mass yet Pluto was far too away to use a normal telescope 



The first method used to determine Pluto's size was to time the period of observation for when Pluto moves against a background star temporarily blocking the star s light Then once you combine the orbital speed and the distance of Pluto with the length of how much the star has dimmed you can arrive at a good estimate of Pluto s width on the sky Yet this method became an issue because as more and more stars passed closer and closer to Pluto without any dimming astronomers and scientists were forced to downsize previous guesses for Pluto's size Many years later Pluto was discovered to have a large near orbiting moon by the name of Charon in 1978 This allowed for a quality estimate to be made for Pluto's mass Then using Newton's laws of gravity it was found that Pluto dropped continuously from about Neptune's mass to smaller than 1 percent the mass of Earth Later in 1980 scientists plotted the mass estimates for Pluto over its discovered existence and predicted that at the rate Pluto's mass was dropping the planet would disappear from the solar system in four years The Science Behind Pluto Pluto is unlike any other planet the list of features and properties shown by this planet is probably longer than the rest of all the planets combined Using mass measurements Pluto contains around 70 percent rock and 30 percent ice Due to the fact that rock is far more dense than ice rock only encompasses around 45 percent of Pluto s total volume Furthermore Pluto is mostly ice and by far the least massive planet Tyson's describes Pluto's orbit is eccentric and he's right Pluto's orbit is quite abstract in comparison to other planets in the solar system Not only does Pluto's orbit cross the orbit of Neptune but Pluto spends 20 years out of its 248 year orbit closer to Neptune than the Sun Shape wise Pluto's orbit is completely oblong It tips more than 17 degrees from the plane of the solar system which is far more than even Mercury s orbit 7 degrees


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