The fairies' midwife

As I mentioned in the previous post, Mark Showalter presented some of the latest Hubble Space Telescope (HST) results on Neptune and Uranus in the last talk of the conference. He was last but by no means least. Those who couldn't be bothered to wait until the end missed some interesting new results and he hinted at some interesting announcements in the near future.

He mentioned the discoveries of S/2003 U1 and S/2003 U2 which are new (the second was a rediscovery) moons of Uranus. They have suggested the names Mab and Overdone to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). In case you didn't know, the moons of Uranus are traditionally named after Shakespearian characters e.g. Desdemona, Puck, Rosalind, Juliet etc. Mab was actually Queen Mab, queen of the fairies, and was described by Mercutio (Romeo and Juliet) as being "no bigger than an agate-stone" and "drawn with a team of little atomies". I'm not sure if that is the reason they picked the name.

Uranus, rings and moons
A composite HST image of Neptune showing the rings and moons. CREDIT: NASA, M. Showalter (Stanford University/NASA Ames Research Center), J. Lissauer (NASA Ames Research Center)

Mark finished his talk with an anagram, as Galileo did when he made a discovery and wanted to claim priority over it (claim that he found it first). The anagram was "Space Odyssey 2001/3: Tinting Uranus". It is fairly obvious that the discovery is going to be about S/2003 U1 and you can probably get the word 'Uranian' too, but I haven't yet worked out what the rest of the letters might say. I'm assuming it is in English but it may not be. Any ideas? Otherwise we shall all have to wait for the announcement in an IAU circular.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Saturday 10th Sep 2005 (14:53 UTC) | Permalink
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