What Planet is That?
Yesterday, I wrote that "it may only be a matter of time before a Trans-Neptunian object larger than Pluto is discovered". Just a few hours later that same evening, such a discovery was announced by Mike Brown. It's amazing how quickly things get obsoleted these days. It seems to have been covered first by space.com, at 23:59 GMT, followed closely by the BBC.
The new discovery, 2003 UB313, is currently nicknamed "Lila" on the announcement website, but the New York Times states that informally, "the astronomers have been calling it Xena after the television series about a Greek warrior princess, which was popular when the astronomers began their systematic sweep of the sky in 2000. 'Because we always wanted to name something Xena,' Dr. Brown said."
I've sent my congratulations and a quick historical note about Venetia Burney to Mike Brown, though I'd be surprised if he has enough to time to even read his email for several months now. At least it's easier than sending a telegram to the Lowell Observatory.
Cite: Palmer, S.B. (2005). "What Planet is That?", in: What Planet is This?
Archival URI: http://inamidst.com/notes/tenthplanet