Public Meeting 13th August – Beyond Pluto

Planet Nine

An artist’s conception of a distant Solar System Planet Nine, that could be shaping the orbits of smaller extremely distant outer Solar System objects



Pluto is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond Neptune. It was the first Kuiper belt object to be discovered and is the largest known plutoid (or ice dwarf).

Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 and was originally considered to be the ninth planet from the Sun. After 1992 its status as a planet was questioned following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt. In 2005, Eris, a dwarf planet in the scattered disc which is 27% more massive than Pluto, was discovered. This led the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term “planet” formally in 2006, during their 26th General Assembly. That definition excluded Pluto and reclassified it as a dwarf or minor planet: designation minor planet 134340 Pluto.


Northern hemisphere of Pluto in true colour

(Image and text source: Wikipedia)


Planet Nine

While searching for evidence of a huge planet lurking beyond Pluto’s orbit dubbed “Planet Nine,” astronomers made a surprise discovery: a previously undetected dwarf planet flying through the darkness. They’ve nicknamed it “the Goblin,” and this little world could help us uncover the secret of the much larger Planet Nine.

Planet Nine

An artist’s conception of a distant Solar System Planet Nine, that could be shaping the orbits of smaller extremely distant outer Solar System objects like 2015 TG387 discovered by a team of Carnegie’s Scott Sheppard, Northern Arizona University’s Chad Trujillo, and the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen.

(Image source: Roberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard, Courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science)


What is Planet Nine, Anyway?

In 2016, astronomers hypothesized there must be a roughly Neptune-sized world far, far away in the solar system that’s perturbing the orbits of nearby space rocks. They called this world “Planet Nine.” Astronomers all over Earth are searching for this distant exoplanet. So far, Planet Nine remains hidden, if it’s there at all.

(Text source: Elizabeth Howell,


 Our next public meeting –

This Tuesday 13th August 2019

 Looking for a massive planet beyond Pluto


We seek members who can help at our meetings

The committee seek help from members to assist in the operation of the society. Our telescope viewing facility has become very popular with record numbers of groups coming to view the sky. Even though this is excellent for our income, the extra activity this winter has challenged the capability of committee members to effectively provide the required service to members and customers.


Accordingly we seek members who have an interest in helping with either or both of the required roles –

Supper Duty  fella

Consists of preparing and cleaning up after supper at our public meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, except January. The role, that starts at approximately 7.15pm, consists of carrying the supper equipment from the observatory to the kitchen; turning on the zip; setting out cutlery, crockery, biscuits, coffee and milk; making the tea; serving supper; cleaning up and washing the dishes; and return to storage in the observatory. With the exception of the last activity, the job is completed before the end of the evening’s program, which is usually 9.30pm approximately.


Telescope Assistance telescopes

Consists of monitoring telescope operations at telescope viewing events at the observatory. The role function is to arrive approximately half an hour before the scheduled arrival of the visitors, usually children and their accompanying adults. Assistance is required with – setting up the telescopes for viewing, helping the children at each telescope as they climb a ladder to view through the telescope, dismantle the telescopes and place in storage, help with the astronomical presentation in the hall.

We operate group viewing events from the end of daylight saving to when daylight saving starts again. Circumstances that determine the timing of events vary widely. Considerations such as availability of suitable celestial objects to view, day and time each group can visit, the availability of our hall (we share tenancy with nine other organisations, approximately), and the simultaneous availability of committee members has to be factored in. The earliest starting time of an event is 5pm, and the latest closing time is usually no later than 7.30pm. These times are approximate. Occasionally we hold a public viewing evening which may continue later into the evening, but special arrangements are organized for these events.


Volunteer numbers sought

Supper:  chef

Currently only one volunteer for supper is required on each of the two Tuesday meetings per month.

Telescope viewing: During the non-daylight saving period, from none to two group viewing events might be booked each week. Volunteers required for each event may vary from none to three, dependent on the number of children and adults arriving, and the availability of committee members. The greatest need is of volunteer assistance with telescope operations, but only for the three winter months.



We envisage setting up a schedule of volunteers for supper and telescope viewing. The schedule will be published in advance so flexibility will apply to facilitate substitutes if a volunteer cannot attend on the scheduled dates.



So there we have it. In the first instance would members who wish to volunteer for either or both of these roles please register with the secretary at –

Thank you.


Our next public meeting –

Viewing – both astronomical and on-screen

Tuesday 13th August

Fergusson Park Observatory, Tilby Drive, Matua, Tauranga.

On-screen program at 7.30pm –

Looking for a massive planet beyond Pluto.


Admission to our meetings –

Door entry $5.

Members & children free.

Payment by cash only.

No EFTPOS facility available.


Annual subscriptions are due –

$30 each adult

or $40 each family

$10 students.

Payment on-line or

cash at meetings.

No EFTPOS facility available.

On-line payment is easy, to –


Bank account number

03 0435 0659752 00

Please indicate “Subscription” and your name.

Once payment is received your nametag(s) will be available at subsequent meetings.



Telescope viewing possible only with zero or minimum cloud cover.

Happy skies everyone.



Kevin Patmore



 TAS large



Affliated With:


With funding support from:


Slooh Space Camera


NASA astronomy picture of the day