Tag: planet

night sky

Pluto and its underworld minions

Pluto has special significance not only because it is the only planet in our solar system to have its status as a planet stripped and downgraded to a dwarf planet, but also because along with its largest satellite Charon, it is our solar system’s only binary planet system. In addition to Charon, Pluto has four […]

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Wheel of Zodiac symbols

Ye Gods! Praise the Days

In this last week of December 2012, I am gazing at the calendar above my desk and wondering how it is possible that in a few days I will have to hang up a new calendar for a new year (as my past gets longer, are the years getting shorter??). My mind wanders as I […]

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the planet Mars takes its name from Mars, the Roman god of war.

Mars: a lexicographer’s perspective

The planet Mars might initially seem an odd choice for Place of the Year. It has hardly any atmosphere and is more or less geologically inactive, meaning that it has remained essentially unchanged for millions of years. 2012 isn’t much different from one million BC as far as Mars is concerned. However, here on Earth, […]

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We can thank the Romans for the names of the days of the week.

The names of days of the week

Many cultures mark time by observing a full phase of the moon roughly equivalent to a month; in many languages the word month comes from the word moon. The Romans, however, took this one step further, naming the seven days of the week after the seven celestial bodies that are visible to the naked eye […]

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solar system

Who’s in charge of the English language?

‘Watson’, says Holmes, ‘when you lie here and see all those stars what do you think?’ ‘Well, Holmes,’ says Watson. ‘All that grandeur and majesty. I can’t help wondering whether there isn’t someone in charge. How about you?’ ‘Me?’ says Holmes, ‘I think: Who’s pinched the tent?’ Venus and Jupiter have been extra-bright recently and […]

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