“The Search For The Ninth Planet”

A Lecture by William Francis Taylor

by Patria Baradi Pacis

On Thursday, May 10, at the Jermain Library in Sag Harbor, Montauk Observatory member, NASA Solar System Ambassador, William Francis Taylor gave a presentation of “The Search For The Ninth Planet.”
Most of us grew up with nine planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. However, in 2006, Pluto, the one with a heart shaped face, discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, was demoted to a dwarf planet and relegated to a new category of “Trans-Neptunian Object” TNO (any minor planet orbiting the sun in our solar system beyond Neptune.)

Why was Pluto demoted? According to the International Autronomical Union IAU, the world body responsible for resolving issues of naming things, that a “planet” is a body that orbits the Sun, is massive enough for its own gravity to make it round, and has “cleared its neighborhood” of small objects around its orbit. Unfortunately, Pluto’s neighborhood is not clear of small objects. Until this day, many astronomers are still debating the definition of what a planet is.

William Taylor showed the attendees how previous astronomers from Aristotle, Ptolemy,Copernicus, Kepler, Galilei, Newton, Herschel, Piazzi and Tombaugh, discovered planets in the past. It was interesting to note that until Galileo Galilei invented the telescope, many just used their naked eyes, mathematical computations and lots of patience in search of new planets.

Other possible ninth planets or dwarf planets were discussed such as Eris, Sedna and Quaoar and also past spacecrafts launched such as Voyager 2 and Cassini with “out of this world” pictures.

This reporter looks forward to getting priceless information from NASA’s $337 million planet-hunting orbital telescope on the Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS that was launched last April for Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX, the private launch service owned by billionaire Elon Musk. Its main purpose is to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope that is running out of fuel. It’s amazing how TESS, the size of a refrigerator with solar-panel wings and four cameras will be targetting 200,000 pre-selected stars searching for a sign of life as we know it. There is no doubt that the ninth planet and more will be named in the near future.

The next star party (weather permitting) will be held at the South Fork Natural History Museum SoFo on Friday, June 15 from 9pm to 11pm. Astronomers will set up telescopes and give guided tours of the heavens. Bring your telescope or binoculars. To register call SoFo 631 537 9735.
On Wednesday, June 27, 8pm “Space Exploration” talk by Col. Bresnik and his wife, Rebecca Bresnik and on Friday, June 29, 2pm “My Life As An Astronaut” geared towards families for children to ask what it’s like to be an astronaut will be held at the John Drew Theater in Guild Hall, East Hampton.

“SPACE EXPLORATION” Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 8:00 PM,
John Drew Theater in Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton, NY 11937
Cost: Free, but registration required: call Guild Hall Box Office at
631-324-4050 or visit
This talk will be presented by both Col. Bresnik and his wife, Rebecca M. Bresnik Esq. In this program, the audience will have a rare opportunity to learn about space from the insiders: what it’s like to live and work in space, to be an astronaut and responsible for the ISS, its overall mission success, the safety of its crew and station; as well as what is involved in handling the complex challenges of one of the most ambitious international collaborations (22 participating member countries) ever attempted. The Bresniks are the two people best able to provide such insights. This event is intended for ages high school and up. (see 6/29/18 for our family-friendly event).

“MY LIFE AS AN ASTRONAUT “ Friday, June 29, 2018, 2:00 PM,
John Drew Theater in Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton, NY 11937
Cost: Free, but registration required: call Guild Hall Box Office at
631-324-4050 or visit
Would you like to meet an astronaut? or to be an astronaut? or work for NASA? or are you just fascinated by all things related to astronomy and space? In this family-friendly event, Col. Bresnik will share his experiences in space, answer questions, and provide an opportunity to take a photo or get an autograph. Intended for younger audiences. A great chance for kids to meet and be inspired by “a real, live astronaut”!

The Montauk Observatory Inc. is a not-for-profit organization, designated as a 501(c)3, and is the only public observatory on the South Fork, with a Mission to provide FREE year round educational programs, including astronomy lectures and professional planetarium shows. The 20” Meade RCX 400 telescope housed at Ross School in East Hampton will soon be operational for star parties and provide discovery programs accessible via Internet. For more info in becoming a member, kindly contact or e mail