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Every Planet Surprises Secular Astronomers, II: Outer Planets

"Surprise" or "puzzling" are the most common words in news reports about bodies in the solar system. Here are recent examples that discuss the outer planets.

The Spin on Planets

As the orbs whirl around Sol, human understanding of our space neighborhood rises and falls.

Europa Joins the Geyser Club

Hints of watery plumes have been detected on Europa – like Enceladus, at its south pole, too.

Space Diamonds May Be Closer to Home

While casting doubt on stars made of diamond, other news reports are saying the precious jewels may inhabit the gas giants of our solar system.

Bimbo Eruptions in the Solar System

Planetary origin theories come across as popular and charismatic, till some little moon pops off and says, "Yoo-hoo! Remember me?"

Planets and Moons Beneath the Surface

Can science peel back the surfaces of objects to see what's underneath? Can they go under the observations to find the explanations?

Astronomers Wrestle with "Endless Mysteries"

Some of the biggest questions in the universe remain completely baffling to astronomers, a leading journal admitted.

Tilt-A-World: Another Constraint on Habitability

Did you ever ride a Tilt-A-Whirl, one of those cheap carnival rides that makes you dizzy and sick? Our planet would be like that if its inclination were out of control. Without tilt stability, a new study reveals, we wouldn't be sick, we'd be dead, or never alive in the first place. It's not enough to be in the Habitable Zone. Would-be inhabited planets need to avoid a new problem, called “tilt erosion.”

Pagan Gods Launched into Space

The latest Jupiter probe from NASA is named Juno, after the name of the wife of Jupiter, Roman chief of the gods. Launched today (August 5), the Juno spacecraft will use Earth for gravity assist in a complex path, to arrive at Jupiter in 2016, where it will study the largest planet from a polar orbit. As “part of a joint outreach and educational program developed as part of the partnership between NASA and the LEGO Group to inspire children to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” according to a press release from the Jet Propulsion Lab, the spacecraft carries 1.5-inch likeness of three figures: Galileo Galileo, who discovered Jupiter’s moons, the Roman god Jupiter, and his wife Juno.

Planetary Eruptions

Eruptions can come in two types: literal and figurative. Some planetary bodies are literally erupting. Others are causing figurative eruptions in theories. Here are some recent news stories about planets, moons, comets and other objects circling our sun and other stars. There hasn’t been much news from Mercury or Venus this month, so we’ll start on the home planet and work outward.
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