A new planet? The 24 May 2001 issue of Nature
reports that astronomers have discovered a large object
in the Kuiper belt
, a ring of icy objects
orbiting the sun out there around Pluto.
The new body has been called Varuna
, and since
it is the third brightest object in the belt, after
and its moon Charon
, one might call it
a planet. More study of its size and orbit are
required before it can be titled
"the tenth planet".
Varuna is an extrodinarily bad
name for this newly discovered body. As Webster 1913
says below, Varuna is the Hindu sea god.
While the kneejerk multinationalism was a
nice gesture, the namers should have consulted an Indian
person. They might have learned, not surprisingly,
that the planet we westerners call Neptune
is called Varuna in India! Duh.