Strictly speaking, from an astronomer's point of view, a lot has changed over the last few decades.
In the previous column, I talked about all of the astronomical books I had when I was a kid, and not all images of Pluto were actual photographs. The Hubble Space Telescope was able to get a faraway planet except for the mysterious mosaic. . Yes, at that time Pluto was an "official" member of the solar system and had nine planets. There are no outer planets including Dwarf planets, inner planets, asteroid belts, and Pluto.
At that time we knew more about the inner solar system than outside. It feels like we're still doing it. The astronomical book was filled with rock-filled plains of Mars taken decades ago by a Biking spacecraft. Who knew Mars a few years later would be considered (relatively) suitable for human life? Of course, we have not yet sent human beings to Mars, but we are coming sooner than we think.
There was no indication of ice in Mercury. It was just a dead, creative, lifeless cancer. Obviously it still exists, but we know a little more. In most cases, Venus remains a mystery. As we talked about last week, the swirling tan cloud completely covers the Venus-burning surface at a temperature of 850 degrees Celsius.
Our knowledge of asteroids has increased, especially with respect to Ceres. At that time we only knew the size of the asteroid, and Ceres was the largest. But now we know that an asteroid can have satellites, and now the dwarf planet, Ceres is an enormously exciting world with bright salt deposits and potentially water.
And it turns us into Mars again. I remember sharply the book before the turn of the century which depicted the red planet as a cold desert wasteland. Yes, in all honesty. But we now know that there may be a sufficient amount of water beneath the surface. And perhaps there is at least a microbial life.
Of course, there was a picture of "face" on Mars. The subject for another time, perhaps.
It is fun and fascinating to discuss the differences between the 1990s and the present in astronomy. Interesting, in fact, you can get a discussion on the alien planet for next week. There is still much to discuss!
Contact Joe Malan, an astronomer at Enid News & Eagle, at [email protected]