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01 October 2008 @ 02:47 pm
Best $8 I've spent recently  
Picked up "Discover Presents the Whole Universe", the magazine, from the front counter of Whole Foods in Ravenna today. (I love buying academic magazines at grocery stores from displays completely absent of Hollywood gossip - I feel so gloriously self-righteously joyful!) Outstanding issue, and a great way for me to catch up on everything we perceive about the solar system since I was in school - a lot has changed.

Here are some fun things I learned while enjoying the beautiful imagery:
• Titan, Saturn's largest moon, has lakes of liquid ethane
• The nearest exoplanet to date is the gas giant Epsilon Eridani B, a mere 10.5 light years away
• The exoplanet HD 40307b, 41.7 light years away, has a year that lasts only 4 Earth days
• To distinguish the rocky from the gaseous planets - just remember that the ones closest to the sun are rocky, and the ones farthest are gassy. The transition point is Jupiter. Rocky: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars. Gas: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. For some reason, I thought there wasn't an order to it, and I actually thought for some reason that both Uranus and Neptune were rocky.
• The asteroid belt in our solar system begins between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter
• The Kuiper belt is 30-50 AU out, and includes the "dwarf" planet Pluto
• The Oort cloud is the final object rich layer that we consider to be in our solar system - a mere 10,000 to 100,000 AU from the Sun

Cool, huh?
Moriaemoriae on October 1st, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC)
mmmmm science.