A thoroughly sporadic column from astronomer Mike Brown on space and science, planets and dwarf planets, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the joys and frustrations of search, discovery, and life. With a family in tow. Or towing. Or perhaps in mutual orbit.

The seven planets

[another guest post, this time at boingboing.net ]

Back in the good old days everyone knew how many planets there were, then scientists came along and screwed everything up. How could something that was always a planet suddenly not be one? It made no sense. Chaos ensued, people protested, and scientists were thrown in prison.

I'm not making up that prison part, either.

Mars attacks

One of the fun things about having a book coming out [TODAY, IN FACT] is that you get invited to do guest posts here and there around the web. You can, for example, watch for me from now until the solstice over at BoingBoing. One of the most fun so far was a chance to write at Babel Clash, about my take on life on other planets. Here is what I had to say:

I grew up in a universe teeming with life. Alien forms lived on and traveled throughout the planets. Sometimes they could even be found on neutron stars or giant rings constructed around a sun, or, shockingly, returned from the earth’s own upper atmosphere. When people meet me for the first time and realize I am an astronomer, the second thing they ask is often: What do you think about the possibility of life on other planets?  (The first thing they ask, of course, is: What happened to Pluto? To which I have a book-long answer to hand them).