The great planet debate - Dec. 13

GEOFF HAINES-STILES Project Director and Executive Producer,: check out discuss-hst

From: "ALEX STORRS (410)-338-4903" : Re: Alex Storrs' file on the Hubble Space Telescope

From: Tim McCollum: Planet choice (3)

From: "Thomas Richard LeMonds Sr.": Planet election

From: Jan Wee: Posting from Ukraine! Student votes!

From: JoAnn Lauwers: Re: Getting ready to choose a planet

From: Ginny Dexter: Re: planet choice

From: Donna O'Callaghan: Planet Debate

From: Jan Wee: The Hull family shares their input!


GEOFF HAINES-STILES Project Director and Executive Producer,: check out discuss-hst

Dear updates-hst,

There seem to be more of you registered for "updates-hst" than for "discuss-hst", but for the past few weeks, "discuss" has been where the action has been. Students all across America, and also in Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Japan, Greece and Turkey (!), have been researching which of the 4 planets we should observe with our 3 HST orbits. Teachers report parents have been dragooned into driving through snowy Virginia to collect books from libraries 2 hours away! Others have been leaving their driving to the Information Highway. Still others say their students are coming up with VERY informed questions when they visit planetariums these days. All in all, the process is doing just what we hoped: becoming exciting, interactive education even before we get our "hands on the Hubble". If you want to check out what's been said, there's a digest on the LHST Web page ( and there's just 3 days left to express an opinion. The Internet works at the speed of light, and we try to also, so it's not too late to give us input! Remember, this is NOT a vote, but we are looking for a consensus decision, and teachers, students, astronomers and PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE will be coming up with the final choice this Friday.

To participate, you can receive the discussion two different ways:

For either option, send a mail message to In the message body, write one of the following lines:

subscribe discuss-hst
subscribe discuss-digest-hst

We hope you'll be with us now, and in the coming months, as that choice is transformed into commands for the HST, and we gear up for the live, interactive video programs in March and April, 1996.

Thanks for your interest.
Onwards and Upwards... and stay cool and connected.
Project Director and Executive Producer,


From: "ALEX STORRS (410)-338-4903" : Re: Alex Storrs' file on the Hubble Space Telescope

I should clear up at least one mistake in my recent posting-- the field of view of the Faint Object Camera (FOC) is 7 arcseconds (7") on a side, not 7 arcminutes. I guess that one just slipped through-- sorry! Note also that the pixels of the planetary camera of the WFPC are 0.046 arcseconds (0.046") on a side-- slightly larger than the point-spread function for the HST. Thus you can use some mathematical jiggery-pokery to improve the spatial resolution of well-exposed WFPC images. This aspect of data reduction is somewhat controversial, however, and some of the planetary advocates may want to comment... Cheers, Alex


The following was submitted by students in my 1st hour 8th grade science class.

We think that the HST should study Pluto. Pluto is the farthest planet away from the Sun and is also the smallest planet. We would have to wait 240 years to study it in the same location again. Pluto is a very cold planet, but currently is in its warmest phase. We also don't have a clear picture of Pluto. We want to know if there is something pulling it away. We would also like to know if Pluto is a double planet.

Janni, Chet, Lee, Curt, Kayla, Michael, Nathaniel, Avery, and Stephen


From: Tim McCollum Subject: Planet choice

The following was submitted by students in my 2nd hour 8th grade science class.

Pluto would be a good planet to observe with the Hubble Space Telescope because there is not much known about it. Pluto is changing very much now because it is getting farther and farther from the sun in its orbit. It's starting to cool, now, so we could study it while it's in its warmest phase. Also, we won't have another opportunity to study Pluto like this for another 240 years.

Rachel Bennett, Josh Blair, Jason D., Nick Fitt, David H., Megan Miller, April Overstreet, Talor Scism, Katie Spoo


From: Tim McCollum Subject: Planet choice

We're Mr. McCollum's 5th hour class from Charleston, IL. After we voted we ended up with Uranus as our choice. Some of the reasons we chose Uranus were because we want to learn more about its tilted axis, its rings, its 10 satellites, its weather and atmosphere, and because it's the "odd-ball planet." The main reason we chose Uranus over Jupiter is because the Galileo probe is already studying that planet.

Kyle Frazier, Bridget Bonner, Jason Pinnell, Helen Nelsen, Kelly Bennett, Christina Schrock, Charlie G., Lindsay M., Mary S., Kevin S.

Tim McCollum 217-345-2193 (school)
Charleston Jr. High School 217-345-8121 (fax)
920 Smith Dr.
Charleston, IL 61920 nie/summer/tmccollum/


From: "Thomas Richard LeMonds Sr.": Planet election

Hello from snow covered Northern Michigan. We had a planet advocate for each of the planets. They researched their planet and reported each day on why we should study their particular planet. Our class then voted. We decided on Neptune. Some intersting facts on Neptune are Triton ,most Scientists think that Triton is a lot like Pluto,so we could study pluto in a sence and still study Neptune.Neptune is one of the most unexplored planets in the solar system.I learned that when Heidi Hammel,Neptune's advocate,took satellite pictures of Neptune she missed 1/3 of the planet that means that 1/3 of the planet has been unexplored since 1989!Did you know that no person has even attempted to take pictures of Neptune's rings? Has anyone ever heard of the great dark spot of Neptune?Well it's gone! NEW dark spots have taken place in the Northen hemisphere,while the Great Dark Spot was is in the Northing hemisphere.Even the SCOOTER is gone.The scooter was a giant storm sweeping around the planet.Many of us think that if you look at Neptune again you might find more storms on the planet that haven't been spoted before.You never know you might rediscover The Great Dark Spot.Like on some imformation I got from Heidi I belive that we can learn a lot about the atmosphere of Neptune.Scietists are always wondering about weather ,and if we get the chance to take the satellite pictures wew will get a chance to study the weather of Neptune.The dark clouds on Neptune have been like a mystery to us we could determine the nature o mystery we study them more.

-Jessica Grant ,Hinks Elementary,Alpena Michigan --


From: Jan Wee: Posting from Ukraine! Student votes!

Dear discuss-hst members,
Bill Gutsch just sent this posting to me that he received from the Ukraine!

Jan Wee, discuss-hst moderator

From: "Yurii V. Medvedev"

Dear Bill,

Doing a series of lectures in schools located quite far from her Planetarium (in same region as Donetsk), Irina made a voting between kids on the questions you asked. She hopes, it will give you more representative picture. The lectures were about Solar System, so children were very well prepared to give their votes, up to moment!

It has been performed in Secondary School N 114 of Donetsk. Kids from five 7-th classes (100 of them) were participating. The results are:

Jupiter: 25
Uranus: 10
Neptune: 10
Pluto: 55

Please, find below a most interesting question too (in my translation, of course):

Irina Agafonova, 7-A class, school N 114, Donetsk, Ukraine


It is known that Saturn has a lot of rings with different colors, corresponding to different sorts of particles. It would be interesting to know the same about uncompleted rings of Neptune. Do its different parts contain different particles?

Kindest regards and very best wishes from Irina,

Sincerely yours,
Sasha F.


From: JoAnn Lauwers: Re: Getting ready to choose a planet

My class also voted for Pluto on our first vote. We have been researching all four planets and following closely all the comments on the internet. On Thursday each group will sell their planet to the rest of the class and we will take a final vote. This is a 5th grade class at Jefferson Elementary School in Fargo, North Dakota.


From: Ginny Dexter: Re: planet choice

Hi we are the fifth sixth grade science class at Hydesville school in Hydesville, California. Hydesville is 18 miles southeast of Eureka, California. We are a k-8 rural school of 180 students. We were involved in the Live from the Stratosphere Project. Eureka is 240 miles north of San Francisco, about a 5 hour drive up the nothcoast among the redowoods. The majority of our students have voted for Pluto based on the following reasons or questions they wanted answered by this study: 1. It is the farthest planet out and so we have not observed it as much, also the last planet identified as a planet.
2. We feel that this is a good time to study the planet because of its orbital position and closeness to the sun.
3. We feel that it would be neat to have enough pictures of Pluto to actually map it and make a model with accurate surface features.
4. We feel that Pluto is a small unknown body that we want to know about like is it really a planet or a lost moon.
5. We would like to know more about Pluto's core, how large it is and if it is really just silicate rock.

We have a minority of students that are sticking with their original vote forJupiter as they feel that it would be much more observable than Pluto. They also feel that now is the time to use Hubble to investigate Jupiter as then we can compare and contrast the data with the probe's data as the information begins coming back to earth.

---------- Ginny Dexter


From: Donna O'Callaghan: Planet Debate

We are a 6th grade team from Alpharetta, GA (north of Atlanta). We took a final vote today and the winner was Uranus with 39% of the votes. The students mainly picked Uranus because they want to learn more about the rings and satellites around the planet. The other results were: Pluto 25%, Jupiter 21%, and Neptune 15%.

Donna O'Callaghan, 6th Grade Science Teacher
Taylor Road Middle School
Alpharetta, GA


From: Jan Wee: The Hull family shares their input!

Dear discuss-hst members,

Did you know that there are families who are participating in this forum/project together?! I think it is great that the involvement cuts across the lines between home and school, geographic distances, socio-economics, cultures, etc.

This family joined because their children did not have access to the Internet at school! Meet the Hull family....

Jan Wee, discuss-hst moderator


Dear Jan,

After much study and discussion my children have agreed to disagree on a planet selection.

Margot (6) chooses Neptune because of the Dark Spot mystery (and I think because she is fascinated by Heidi Hammel).

Stev (9) chooses Pluto because he is intrigued by the possibility of an organic surface.


Greg Hull-Allen (and family)
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, New York
AXAF Test Engineering