~0 * V [Thea generation of space exploration. Today I'm further from home out near the Kuiper Belt [R with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune identified with initials near pink blobs]. On The Blob, it's becoming traditional to give Mike "Prince of the Minor Planets" Brown a trib in January each year  . I like his style although he his career has not been without controversy: largely in priority spats about who saw what first. His demotion of Pluto from status as the ninth planet to one of several Trans-Neptune Objects TNOs, at least some of which are bigger than Pluto, is no longer controversial. Pluto is only a planet in aged books of pub-quiz questions. Brown is in the news again this last week because he's changed his mind! Changing your mind in science is just as rare as it is in other fields: changing your mind requires yielding to persuasion or data or evidence - and not many people are happy to make the mental and emotional effort.
Drake Blob Equation]
We are now being asked to believe that squitty little Pluto and Sedna and Makemake and Huamea are being brought into line by the Mother of all TNOs: a huge lump of a planet perhaps bigger that Neptune itself. You can name squitty little minor planets after obscure Polynesian deities to show how down you are with minority peoples, but so far everyone is zipping their gobs and calling the big one Planet Nine (hypothesis) . . . except Brown and his co-worker Константи́н Юрьевич Батыгин Konstantin Batygin who refer to their hypothetical planet as Fatty. That's the level of respect in which major discoveries are held at CalTech: previous CalTech names include Easterbunny, Santa and Xena the Warrior Princess. Here's the evidence from a CalTech press release:
taken up by another consortium of astronomers which included a former collaborator of Brown's called Chad Trujillo; they also suggested a large object as an explanation for distorted orbits in the far distant, freezing cold outer limits of the solar system.
Brown and Batygin thought this was was
Now the hunt is on to find Fatty with a telescope. The mathematics predicts its location with a certain amount of fuzziness so it's not a random search in the vast emptiness. Actually, with the persistent occurrence of pre-covery in this field, it is possible that a telescopic photograph has already 'seen' the planet and has it stored in an on-line archive. Planet Nine might well be revealed by a 15 year-old night-owl from Иркутск Irkutsk with a computer. Look out! Or look to your screens.