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Each planet — including the sun and moon — was associated with a god: Mercury was associated with the god of wisdom, Venus with the goddess of love and war, and the Sun with the god of justice, and so on. This fascination with planets was not unique to the Babylonians. For nearly all of recorded human history, people have ascribed special importance to planets.


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The sort of objects that, initially, we could see with our naked eye in the night sky, that behaved differently from the stars. The Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa contains a record of the rise and set times of Venus on the horizon in the seventeenth century BC. In other languages, though, the word dates back much further. The ancient Greeks, like the Babylonians, associated the planets with gods, often corresponding with the Babylonian pairings.

Other ancient societies, like those in China and India, also connected planets with personal attributes and predictions of future events, in what would later be referred to as astrology. In the fourth century BC, astronomy became more quantitative, focusing on the scientific and mathematical side of observing the universe beyond Earth. This specialisation split astronomy from astrology and religion.

Astrology dealt with the symbolic associations between the planets and everyday life as it still does, largely unchanged, to this day. Astronomers, however, studied the planets using observations and mathematics, determining how far each was from Earth and predicting their paths across the sky. The same planets the Babylonians knew of, their moons, and Earth itself were included.

While the Sun was still widely thought to orbit the Earth, it was no longer considered a planet, as the evidence that it was actually a star continued to grow. The moon, since it did not orbit the sun, was struck from the list of planets. The 19th century brought a crackdown on planets. One might think that this would be a fine line especially given modern debates over Pluto , but it was not.

The largest object to be reclassified, Ceres, was less than one three-hundredth the mass of the smallest planet: Also, all of the objects that were reclassified shared similar orbits in what is now called the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. Shortly after this mass reclassification, in , Neptune was observed for the first time.


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In the 19th century, objects that were too small lost their planet status and reclassified as asteroids. Artist impression of asteroid belt. The last object to be officially added to the list of planets was Pluto. A planet beyond Neptune had been theorised for some time before Clyde Tombaugh actually saw Pluto in , as slight wobbles in the orbits of the outer planets suggested a body larger than Earth lay beyond them. The International Astronomical Union IAU , a group of astronomers charged with standardising the names and designations of astronomical objects, decided it was time for a change, stating: Recent discoveries lead us to create a new definition, which we can make using currently available scientific information.

According to the IAU, a planet must: The New World Order: Essentially, a dwarf planet is a planet that still smashes into lots of things as it orbits the sun. These new IAU definitions have been controversial. One is that it applies only to our solar system: And two, it is not quantitative: That makes it simply another measurement of size and mass that sets a higher bar than the hydrostatic equilibrium criterion.

Portishead – Wandering Star Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

Why are planets so important to us? But changing knowledge ingrained in primary school is never easy. We will almost certainly discover new astronomical bodies, and with those new discoveries will come new names.

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Regardless of whether they are planets, dwarf planets, exoplanets, or simply 'worlds,' as many scientists have taken to using as an umbrella term, humans will always be fascinated by them. On that, the astronomers all agree.

Wandering Stars

People love the unknown, the unexplored, the weird, the beautiful, the different. Planets are all of those things. But so are asteroids and Kuiper Belt Objects and moons. Some of them I never learned from written music but I loved and sang them to myself for many years. Some of these tunes I got from my friends or one of my excellent teachers. Joining me on this CD is my longtime friend Frances Cunningham on bouzouki, who helps me tell these musical stories.

She and I remember Lloyd Gibson from the Houston sessions who helped teach both of us about Celtic music, and who supported both of us in our different musical paths, now come together.

Wandering Star Lyrics

When on the road as a musician in the US, there can be a lot of open sky and long drives through the night. Sometimes great clarity can come from stopping at some very dark spot on the road and getting out to look at the stars. Thank you every one who has pre-ordered or donated to this production!

More video and photos of the recent Texas tour will be coming soon as I get home and send the finished album to the printers in preparation for the North Texas Irish Festival in early March. Because this is a bit of a fundraiser, and because you will get your signed CD before anyone else, fresh out of the box!