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  1. Despite Public Support, One of Pluto’s Moons Will Not Be Called Vulcan

    Dammit Jim!

    The polls set up by the SETI Institute to name the two moons of Pluto have been closed, and, unfortunately, neither moon will be called Vulcan.  When the SETI institute wrapped up the polls back in February to name the two moons that had been discovered in 2011 and 2012, the name Vulcan had 175,000 votes, with Cerberus, or Kerberos, in second place with 99,432, and Styx in third.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that William Shatner convinced so many people to vote for the trekkie title for one of the moons, SETI overruled the poll.

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  2. Hubble Discovers Evidence of Planet Forming 7.5 Billion Miles Away From Its Own Star

    So it's farther than Pluto is from our Sun, and also more of a planet than Pluto is. Double points, new planet!

    Big Bang aside, most of us non-scientists tend to not to think for very long about how exactly it is that planets are formed nowadays. Well, I certainly don't, at least, because most of the time I'm too busy deciding what food I want to eat at any given moment. But thank God for the Hubble Telescope, through which astronomers have found compelling evidence of a planet forming billions of miles away from its star. Even cooler, this might serve to completely change all of the current theories about planet reformation. 

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  3. New Telescope Imaging Technique Reveals Four of the Weirdest Planets Ever Discovered

    A new imaging system has allowed a team of astronomers to reveal new details about the four planets orbiting a nearby star, proving them to be among the strangest celestial bodies on record. Each one has about ten times the mass of the planet Jupiter, and rather than the blend of methane and ammonia one would expect in their atmospheres, the giant planets have one or the other instead.

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  4. Today in Geek History: William Herschel Discovers Uranus

    We love our planets. We clap our hands when we discover something new about one, we raise our heads when their moons need naming, and we lament when it turns out one of them isn't a planet after all (but we secretly still pretend it is). We also positively freak out when we discover a new one. For example: On March 13th, 1781, astronomer Sir Frederick William Herschel announced the discovery of Uranus. Astronomical comedy was never the same, because no celestial object can generate more jokes than Uranus.

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  5. New Definition Boots Earth Out Of ‘Goldilocks Zone’ for Habitable Planets

    As researchers sift through reams of data looking for the telltale signs of planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy, special attention is paid to planets in the so-called 'Goldilocks Zone' that could conceivably support life. In the interest of improving and honing the search for Earth-like planets, a team of astronomers led by Penn State University has proposed some changes to the 'Goldilocks Zone' that they think paint a better picture of where life-sustaining planets would orbit in relation to their stars. There's just one problem -- that new definition kicks the Earth's orbit nearly out of the new 'Goldilocks Zone,' meaning that we are all going to have to move to a planet that could support life, as this one clearly can't. Get packing, everyone.

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  6. Pluto Strikes Back: Moons, Possible Rings of Former Planet Could Damage NASA Probe

    It's been more than six years since Pluto was demoted from its once vaunted status as the ninth planet in our solar system to one of more than 40 dwarf planets. While it is, yes, scientifically accurate, the decision has never set well with plenty of folks, yours truly included. The former ninth planet didn't have a chance to defend itself from NASA's slings and arrows during the review process, but it might get a chance at a little vengeance in a couple of years, watching its moons -- and even the rings it might have -- bang around NASA's New Horizons Probe on its way out of the solar system.

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  7. In The Future, We’ll All Wear Planets In Our Hair [VIDEO]

    What Boys Think of Girls

    I've often pondered on what the future might be like but if this is what we can expect, sign me up! Forget hover boards, never mind replicators, I want a hair-do fit for the cosmos. Have a look at this 1960s video, from what I'm sure was an up-and-coming salon in Britain, and see if you'd be interested in the services they offer. If you've got some time, the entire Vintage Fashions YouTube channel is a wealth of delightful/bizarre old videos. Certainly worth a look. (via io9)

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  8. Researcher Suggests Phantom Planet in Our Solar System

    Modern astronomy has finally begun to find planets outside our solar system, but it's also tracked down some weird objects orbiting our own sun. Objects like Sedna have surprised astronomers, but one researcher is suggesting that something much larger might be out there: A never before seen planet in our own solar system. Of course, proving such a claim will be tricky.

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  9. Scientists Discover New Super-Earth Within Habitable Zone of Nearby Star

    An international team of scientists has discovered a new super-Earth orbiting a star only 22 light years away. The orbiting planet has a an orbital period of around 28 days and a minimum mass 4.5 times the size of Earth. Most excitingly, the planet orbits its star within a zone where temperatures are within the right range for water to exist, neither too hot nor too cold, otherwise known as the habitable zone.

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  10. “Orphan Planets” Without Solar Systems May Be More Numerous Than Stars

    While we tend to think of planets as orbiting stars, as in our own solar system, according to a recent survey of the Milky Way galaxy, the findings of which were published in the latest issue of Nature [paywalled], the universe may be abundant with rogue planets that drift alone through space, with no central star. The astronomers behind the survey discovered ten so-called "orphan planets" roughly the size of Jupiter at the heart of the Milky Way. But what's more interesting than the planets they discovered are the implications of their discovery: As the planets were discovered within a relatively small swath of the galaxy, it's likely, based on their 'population density,' that free-floating planets outnumber the stars.

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