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BEIJING 20-31 Aug 2012 China hosts XXVIII General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union

The XXVIII General Assembly could make headlines because a recent discovery calls into question its

August 20, 2012 - NULL

BEIJING 20-31 Aug 2012 China hosts XXVIII General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union

The XXVIII General Assembly could make headlines because a recent discovery calls into question its re-definition of a planet at the XXVI Assembly. The 2006 change demoted Pluto. If the XXVIII Assembly removes the constellation Scorpius from the Zodiac and replaces it with the constellation Ophiuchus -- or makes Ophiuchus the 13th constellation -- it will create as big a stir as Pluto's demotion. The question is whether a Zodiac change will make astrological predictions more accurate.

The IAU is the official body that names celestial objects

BEIJING 20-31 Aug 2012 China hosts XXVIII General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union

The XXVIII General Assembly could make headlines because a recent discovery calls into question its re-definition of a planet at the XXVI Assembly. The 2006 change demoted Pluto. If the XXVIII Assembly removes the constellation Scorpius from the Zodiac and replaces it with the constellation Ophiuchus -- or makes Ophiuchus the 13th constellation -- it will create as big a stir as Pluto's demotion. The question is whether a Zodiac change will make astrological predictions more accurate.

The IAU is the official body that names celestial objects and determines the boundaries of constellations. Pluto lost its status as the ninth planet when astronomers found more worlds, some larger than Pluto, orbiting the Sun in the frozen wastes of the outer solar system.

The IAU defined a planet as "a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." New research, featured in the May 2011 issue of Nature and reported by Discovery News, suggests the definition will no longer serve. Study author Takahiro Sumi, an astrophysicist at Osaka University in Japan, says that he's found at least 10 Jupiter-sized objects wandering the nearby galaxy without parent stars. Extrapolating, the researchers estimated that there are at least twice as many free-flying planets as there are stars like the Sun.

Discovery News reported in May that the recent 218th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Boston is planning to take to the IAU assembly in Beijing a proposal to adjust the constellation boundary between Scorpius and Ophiuchus. The change would re-assign the section of Scorpius that the Sun travels through for six days each year into the constellation of Ophiuchus. The astronomers pointed out that the Sun is in the constellation Scorpius for less than a week, while it resides in Ophiuchus for almost three weeks out of the year.

The change would require dumping and replacing Scorpius or adding a 13th zodiacal sign. Discovery News points out that If Scorpius is dumped, people born between Nov 23 and Dec 17 would become Ophiuchans. The common belief that 13 is an unlucky number could help fuel criticism to adding a 13th sign.

Of the 88 Western constellations in the sky, 12 were especially honored by the ancients because they lie along the Zodiac -- the pathway of the sun, moon and planets. Astrologers divinate from these mythological figures when casting horoscopes.

Ophiuchus was a medical healer who sought the secrets of immortality. His snake found immortality on modern-day medical symbols. (WRITTEN Jun 2011)

RELATED READING:

International Astronomical Union
http://www.iau.org/

Lonely Planets Populate the Cosmos (Discovery News 18 May 2011) http://news.discovery.com/space/lonely-planets-jupiter-solar-systems-110518.html

Lonely Planet: Worlds Found Wandering Interstellar Space (ABC 18 May 2011)
http://blogs.abcnews.com/scienceandsociety/2011/05/lonely-planet-worlds-found
-wandering-interstellar-space.html

You May Already Be An Ophiuchan (Discovery News 31 May 2011)
http://news.discovery.com/space/you-may-already-be-an-ophiuchan-110531.html

Date written/update: 2012-08-20