Monday, April 30, 2007

Odd Thoughts About Pluto
& Goldilocks

When I first met Daddy, I was nine and he was 45. We had this conversation about Pluto that went on for a while before we realized that he was talking about the dog and I was talking about the planet.

I have mentioned that I, at one time, wanted to be an astronomer. When I discovered that it involved much more math than it did looking through telescopes and that it wouldn't qualify me to go to the moon, I gave that up. The names and order of the planets in our solar system was, to quote Henry of Ugly Betty, "Just a thing that I know." An important part of life, knowing those things which would never change. You know, the number of planets, the names, the order, the number of moons. That sorta real, forever stuff. Yep.

When I taught Montessori, we had a solar system mobile. The planets were mostly to scale as far as size, but distances weren't possible. The planets closer in than Neptune were all in one corner of the classroom, and then in the furthest away corner of the building was Pluto. And that was way too close. Had they been in distance scale, Pluto would have had to be 1,000 miles away. Or so I'm told.

Someone has decided that Pluto isn't even a planet at all. Which solves where to put it on the mobile, I suppose, but isn't satisfying to me at all. Richard tells me that one can classify the planets like you do the vowels: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and sometimes Pluto. I guess that will have to do.

On top of these musings, I read of a new, non-solar planet that is believed to be the first to be discovered so far that could support life. The first that isn't a Goldilocks planet. Not too hot. Not too cold. The rather delightful confusion of astronomy and children's concerns just goes on and on.


Anvilcloud said...

I took my class out in the hall once to try to do some of this to scale. It took much of the whole, long hall as I recall, and you sure couldn't see my little scale objects at those distances. I guess it made a point of some sort.

Anonymous said...

I think it is too cool that we are finding other planets far and away that can support life. I can hardly wait.


Anonymous said...

Hey Joycelyn,

I have tried to email you but it doesn't go through your firewall. I tried to call you and your phone was busy the first few times i called and now seems to be disconncected. Do i have the wrong number?

Would you E-mail me w/ your correct info? or call 503-956-7280 I want to stay in touch with you.

Love you

Carol Dunning
ps-please don't post this-I just wanted to get in touch with you.