Provisional name for the newly-discovered tenth planet of our solar system, currently given the designation 2003 UB313.

On July 30, 2005, it was offically announced that astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (ie. CalTech) discovered the planet, which is twice the size of Pluto, which until now had been the furthest planet from the sun in our solar system. Xena's size helped in deciding the object was a true planet and not an asteroid (sometimes called a minor planet); this is not the case with the previously-discovered Sedna, which is generally agreed to be too small to be a true planet.

Xena was discovered in the Kuiper Belt after a five year search by the CalTech team headed by Dr. Michael Brown. It was photographed on October 21st, 2003 by Brown, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory and David Rabinowitz of Yale University1 using a 48-inch telescope at the Palomar Observatory. However, Xena moves so slowly that movement wasn't detected until this past January.

With a powerful telescope, you should be able to see Xena in the constellation Cetus, with best results between now and the next six months.

The Facts:

  • Size: 1,700 miles in diameter.

  • Distance from the Sun: around 9 billion miles.

  • Orbit:
    • Orbital Period: 203,500 days (560 years)
    • Aphelion: 97.610 AU
    • Perihelion: 37.808 AU
    • Inclination of Angle: 44.177° to the ecliptic.

  • Apparent magnitude: 19

  • Temperature: -240° C.

  • Make-up: unknown, but presumed to be similar to Pluto, as methane ice has been detected on its surface.

  • Albedo: 0.5–1.0

  • Color: Looks pretty whitish.

1. This is the same team that discovered Sedna on November 14, 2003.

We have adopted multiple cats in our lifetime.

Shortly after the death of our much beloved first cat, we bonded with a tuxedo kitten with similar colorings. She was a rescue, taken from a house of hoarders. She's tiny and stunted in many ways from childhood starvation and is terrified of people. She will steal and eat any bread left out and is forever paranoid about the availability of food. She is also terrified of people, even us.

Why the name? She hunts things in a particularly graceful way. If our cats were people Hobbes would be a Louisiana oil field worker with barn door shoulders and a wicked right hook. Gigi would be a female Ed Gein in terms of ruthlessness and thoroughness. Bo would scream Leroy Jenkins and charge facefirst into the target. Xena reminds me of the TV character.

We adopted Xena at the same time as Monty and they were very close. Monty got very sick very fast and crashed dying at the vet's from feline peritonitis, a virtual death sentence. She loved that kitten very much. We have sensitive cats: Gigi lost the will to eat after Frankie died, and her weight plummeted.

But Bo is energetic enough and close enough in age for them to constantly play. So she's gotten over it.

The nights are dropping to freezing and she is a tiny shorthaired cat. As a result it is guaranteed she will nestle in the crook of my knees. Hobbes sleeps protectively against my feet, but she mushes in and purrs.

She seems unfazed by sleeping me or even waking me. She is okay with me scratching her head and gently stroking her fur, immediately purring furiously and stretching out, licking my hand vigorously and thoroughly.

She and Hobbes get along... there's many a day in which she will quietly join him in looking out a window and they will quietly abide together. We joke that they're a couple.

I feel privileged to know her and have her as a friend.





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