Many of us wonder who discovered the many planets and stars of our solar system and beyond. With telescopes and viewing apparatus being increasingly more powerful new stars and planets are being discovered all the time. The most distant planets were discovered over the last one hundred years. Here we take a look at the most interesting discoveries of the last century.
Venus is one of the brightest planets we can see and can be seen by the naked eye although for centuries people were confused about Venus as it is located so very close to the sun. Due to its proximity to the Sun Venus rises and sets with the Sun every day, while in the distant past ancient people called Venus The Morning Star and The Evening Star assuming they were two separate planets rather than the one planet it actually was.
So, we do not know who originally discovered Venus but much has been discovered concerning the planet in the past one hundred years. One such discovery was that Venus rotates backwards therefore the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, the complete opposite to Earth. This discovery was attributed to one Robert Richardson.
Both the US and Russia have sent probes to Venus resulting in the fact that we now know the atmosphere on Venus is really dense made up mostly from carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid with its surface reaching temperatures of 900 degrees farenheit! As recently as 1990 The Magellan Spacecraft mapped the surface of Venus discovering there is no water, huge craters and volcanoes.
Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh who was an assistant at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. Lowell, who founded the observatory decades earlier had suspected that Pluto was indeed there but died before he had the chance to discover and confirm its existence.
Using a much more powerful telescope Tombaugh searched the skies using Lowells predictions and finally one year on Pluto was discovered. The announcement was delayed to the world that a new planet had been discovered until what would have been the seventy fifth birthday of Lovell, which was on 13th March.
The name Pluto was chosen by an eleven year old girl from Oxford, while the planet was considered to be the ninth planet in our solar system but in 2006 was down graded to a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union.
Charon is Pluto's moon and was discovered in 1978 by James Christy. Looking at highly magnified photographs of Pluto he noticed occassionally a small lump semed to be sticking out of the side of Pluto. It transpired that Pluto did indeed have a small moon about half its size orbiting it.
The surface of Charon is covered in water and ice, while further investigation found traces of cryo-volcanism. Due to the discovery of Charon scientists could then measure the size of Pluto as they now had something to guage it by. The name Charon comes from the Greek ferryman of Hades.
In 1925 American astronomer Edwin Hubble proved without a doubt that the Andromeda Nebulae were far too distant away to be part of The Milky Way and were entire galaxies outside our own galaxy. This discovery set off a huge debate as to the size of the universe.
In 1929 Hubble further discovered that all galaxies in the universe are moving away from Earth by using his formula "Hubbles Law" that is still widely used today.
It was during the time Tombaugh was looking for Pluto, in the 1930's, that he also discovered many asteroids, eight hundred in total! Tombaugh also discovered hundreds of variable stars and star clusters, galaxy clusters and a galaxy super cluster.
Dwarf Planet 2012 VP 113
This is the most recently discovered dwarf planet and is said to measure two hundred and eighty miles in diameter and is far beyond Pluto. This planet also provides clues to another new planet that is ten times the size of Earth. Scientists are of the mind that this new dwarf planet was thrown to its position when the solar system was born.
Discovered beyond the Kuiper Belt, an area previously thought to be empty, scientists now think that other planets may lay there yet to be discovered. The planet just now is named Biden but scientists may name the planet after a name from Eskimo mythology as the planet is very cold. This discovery is a fabulous find following ten years hard searching.