This year, 2011, has been busy in speculation on the heavens. As is usually the case, Science does have its surprises, or rather, I should say – uncertainties. Here are some stories of stellar significance in case you missed them so far this year:

KING OF THE KUIPER BELT

Which is bigger – Pluto or Eris? Despite being demoted in 2005, Pluto may be bigger afterall, but Eris is denser, recent measurements indicate.  It seems there is still some uncertainty in the size of Pluto, so it’s true size may have to wait until NASA’s Horizon spacecraft does a flyby in 2015. The true King of the Kuiper belt will be revealed!

The War of the Worlds, Round 2

Dwarf Planets (Pluto, Eris) Battle

ZODIAK ZEITGEIST

What’s Your Sign? A recent story suggests this is up in the air! Due to the precession of the Earth (like a wobbling top) and 2000 years of said wobbling, the signs of the zodiak are not where they used to be. Everything is shifted by a month it seems – Capricorn in January and Aquarius in February, etc. Now that’s a Zodiak Zeitgeist at work!

Did Your Horoscope Predict This?

THE APOTHEOSIS OF APOPHIS

Is Doomsday coming? Apparently NASA and the Russians disagree (slightly) on whether we should worry. The killer Asteroid Apophis is due for a ‘close’ visit to Planet Earth in 2029 and 2036. If it passes through a ‘gravitational keyhole’ in 2029, it would impact in 2036. It’s a 1-in-250,000 chance according to NASA. A ‘nearby’ approach in early 2013 is pending for more data. Stay tuned for the Apotheosis of Apophis Announcement!

Russians: 2036 Killer Asteroid Collision: NASA Unimpressed

I took the liberty of giving these stories my own clever titles as possible alternate headlines. Feel free to suggest your own. I have provided appropriate links for further exploration. On a personal note, it is interesting that these stories all seemed to emerge around the same time (Jan-Feb, 2011) and have some significance in skeptical science from the heavens – Worth a look in case they passed you. Here’s one more to ponder…

PLAYING ASTEROIDS

Is it as suggested – the first observation of asteroids colliding?

Did Hubble Capture Aftermath Images of Asteroids Colliding?

The heavens are alive with the Sound of Science…

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