Friday, August 18, 2006

More news from the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Society

So the big news from the 26th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union is the pending definition of the term "planet," which, if passed, means the Solar System will have 12 or more planets. But, believe it or not, when 2500 astronomers get together, there is much more to talk about than how many planets can dance on the head of a pin.

In fact, there is so much going on that it is impossible for one person to see it all. Part of the General Assembly is that a dozen or more simultaneous, smaller meetings take place during the meeting.

In order to keep attendees updated on everything that is going on, a small daily newspaper, the Dissertatio com Nuncio Sidereo III, or "Conversations with the Sidereal (stellar) Messenger." The name is Latin and taken from the title of a book written by one of the first great astronomers, Johannes Kepler, in 1610. Putting together the Nuncius every day is hard work, especially since the editors are clearly non-native English speakers. So kudos to the editors! If you would like to read the Nuncius, keep in mind that it was written by astronomers for astronomers. But you are more than welcome to read PDF versions of it at this web site.

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