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Invitation to apply for individual membership of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
Email  the XLS electronic form to Judith Hodges ( jh@ras.org.uk) before 31 December 2008.

IAU application form (90kb, xls)

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Title: IAU Planet Definition: Some Confusions and Their Modifications
Authors: R. Sarma, K. Baruah, J. K. Sarma

International Astronomical Union (IAU) has passed the must needed definition of planet in its general assembly held in Prague during August 2006. The definition had to be passed by means of voting. A group of scientists who raised the banner of revolt against the IAU definition has pointed out that the IAU has failed to give an acceptable definition regarding a planet. A brief description of the serious objections found in the definition of planet has been discussed here. In this paper an attempt has also been made to give a new definition of a planet by introducing some modifications to the IAU definition.

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Lecture Topic - The Discovery of "2003 UB313"
Dr. Michael Brown, Professor of Planetary Astronomy, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology.

This lecture will discuss the recently found 2003 UB313.

The realplayer broadcast is starting Now. ( Thursday at 7 p.m. PDT)


-- Edited by Blobrana on Tuesday 5th of January 2010 09:22:55 PM

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(134340) PLUTO, (136199) ERIS, AND (136199) ERIS I (DYSNOMIA)

Following the Aug. 24 resolution by the IAU to the effect that the solar system contains eight "planets" (Mercury- Neptune), with (1) Ceres, Pluto (cf. IAUC 255), and 2003 UB313 (cf. IAUC 8577) to be considered representative "dwarf planets", the Minor Planet Centre included Pluto and 2003 UB313 (along with two other new potential dwarf-planet candidates) in the standard catalogue of numbered objects with well-determined orbits as (134340) and (136199), respectively (see MPC 57525). Following near-unanimous acceptance by both the Committee on Small-Body Nomenclature and the Working Group on Planetary-System Nomenclature (in consultation with the discovery team), the IAU Executive Committee has now approved the names Eris for (136199) and Dysnomia for its satellite (136199) Eris I (formerly S/2005 (2003 UB313) 1; cf. IAUC 8610).

Source (PDF)

-- Edited by Blobrana on Tuesday 5th of January 2010 09:23:49 PM

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EDITORIAL NOTICE
(From MPC 57525)

At the IAU General Assembly in Prague on Aug. 24 a very substantial majority of the members present agreed to accept that the solar system contains just eight "planets" (Mercury-Neptune) and that objects in hydrostatic equilibrium orbiting the sun but not dominating their vicinity would be considered as "dwarf planets".

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GREEK astronomers had appealed to the world's top astronomical body to maintain a tradition of naming planets after Greek mythological figures, the Athens Observatory said today.

The Greeks were riled when a new planet-sized object discovered in 2003 was unofficially called Xena in homage to the main character of the American fantasy television series Xena: Warrior Princess.

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240806planets
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Credit IAU

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At the second session of the 2006 International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly, in Prague, which was held 14:00 Thursday 24 August, members of the IAU voted on separate sequential votes on Resolution 5A and Resolution 5B.

Following active discussion among IAU scientists at the IAU 2006 General Assembly , draft Resolution 6b (issued 16 August 2006) was updated and amended.

"IAU's rules for proposing resolutions are based on an open democratic process and it is a great pleasure for the IAU Executive Committee to see the level of engagement of so many astronomers here. We want to engage as broad a part of the IAU community as possible in the decision-making process to give this Resolution the best chance to be passed" - Ron Ekers IAU, President.

Resolution 5A is the principal definition for the IAU usage of "planet" and related terms. Resolution 5B adds the word "classical" to the collective name of the eight planets Mercury through Neptune.

Resolution 6A creates for IAU usage a new class of objects, for which Pluto is the prototype. Resolution 6B introduces the name "plutonian objects" for this class. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "plutonian" as:
Main Entry: plu • to • ni • an
Pronunciation: plü-'tO-nE-&n
Function: adjective
Usage: often capitalised: of, relating to, or characteristic of Pluto or the lower world

After having received inputs from many sides -- especially the geological community -- the term "Pluton" is no longer being considered.

IAU Resolution: Definition of a Planet in the Solar System
Contemporary observations are changing our understanding of planetary systems, and it is important that our nomenclature for objects reflect our current understanding. This applies, in particular, to the designation 'planets'. The word 'planet' originally described 'wanderers' that were known only as moving lights in the sky. Recent discoveries lead us to create a new definition, which we can make using currently available scientific information.

RESOLUTION 5A
The IAU therefore resolves that planets and other bodies in our Solar System be defined into three distinct categories in the following way:

(1) A planet1 is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

(2) A dwarf planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape2, (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite.

(3) All other objects3 orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as "Small Solar System Bodies".

1The eight planets are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
2An IAU process will be established to assign borderline objects into either dwarf planet and other categories.
3These currently include most of the Solar System asteroids, most Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), comets, and other small bodies.


RESOLUTION 5B
Insert the word "classical" before the word "planet" in Resolution 5A, Section (1), and footnote 1. Thus reading:

(1) A classical planet1 is a celestial body . . .

and

1The eight classical planets are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.



IAU Resolution: Pluto

RESOLUTION 6A
The IAU further resolves:

Pluto is a dwarf planet by the above definition and is recognized as the prototype of a new category of trans-Neptunian objects.

RESOLUTION 6B
The following sentence is added to Resolution 6A:

This category is to be called "plutonian objects."


Source

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About 2,500 experts are in Prague for the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) general assembly are to vote today on a formal definition for the term "planet".
The IAU has dropped its original plan to call Pluto and many more distant objects as planets.
Instead, it has come up with another definition that would see the ninth planet airbrushed out of school and university textbooks.
The IAU's final resolution on the definition of a planet adds an important change that states a planet must be the dominant object in its orbital zone, clearing out any smaller neighbours.
The result would be a Solar System with eight "classical" planets; Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

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Video streams from XXVIth GA IAU Prague Congress Centre.

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