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The Discovery of Planet 7 and the Search for Planet 9

The music composer and orchestra director, William Herschel (HER-shell), has discovered the 7th planet. He calls it the Georgian Star after King George the 3rd, but in countries where King George is unwelcome, the planet is called Herschel after its discoverer. In later years, it will officially be named Uranus (YUR-en-nis). William reports his discovery to the Royal Astronomer but he is skeptical. After all... in previous years William had speculated on trees growing on the Moon. This time William carefully describes his latest discovery as a comet without a tail that looks like a planet. By 1783, astronomers will verify that Uranus is a planet and they will credit William Herschel with its discovery. The symbol assigned to the planet is a globe with an 'H' above it. The 'H' stands for Herschel (HER-shell). [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In 1930, Clyde Tombaugh found Planet 9 which was named Pluto, but Pluto is now demoted to a dwarf planet. Yet astronomers still believe that Planet 9 is out there beyond the Kuiper Belt (KYE-per). Recent data from the Saturn probe indicates a large area of the sky in the constellation "The Whale" where the planet might reside. A single telescope could spend decades in search of such a planet, but there are many telescopes owned by colleges and universities that are worthy of such a project. One does not need a super-telescope to join in the search but a 12 inch reflector telescope from Amazon.com isn't going to cut it. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

Standing at the Breaking Point: The Siege of Yorktown

After a series of miracles, General Cornwallis surrenders to General Washington at Yorktown. It is such a devastating loss that the British negotiate peace with the USA. Wow! Last year Washington was living his darkest hour. What changed? French troops land at Rhode Island which allows Washington to deceive the British into thinking he is preparing to attack New York. Thus the British hesitate to send reinforcements to help Cornwallis in Virginia. French naval warships arrive in Chesapeake Bay to block any escape to the sea by Cornwallis. General Greene successfully harasses Cornwallis, but Greene's army disperses after the Battle of Guilford Court House. Lafayette has been shadowing Cornwallis and with conflicting orders from New York, Cornwallis is stuck in Yorktown. (Taking the low ground is a big mistake, but he has his orders.) Two other miracles occur. First, the French naval forces are carrying 500,000 silver pesos. Washington's troops are given a month's pay which boosts morale. The next miracle is that Washington's spies have swiped a British code book. (This is like knowing the secret baseball signs the base coach is giving to the runners.) By interpreting the signals of Cornwallis's troops, the French can block the attempts of Cornwallis to break the siege. Washington begins his bombardment of Yorktown. On October 17th, a British officer appears, waving a white handkerchief. British reinforcements finally arrive on October 24th. Too late. [10] [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Siege of Yorktown was much more complex than I'm making it sound here. Some people want to turn it into a French victory with Washington being dragged along against his will. Certainly he could not have won without French help and in some respects Washington was forced to fight at Yorktown because of the French naval decision to show up there. On the other hand, the French naval commander seemed so worried of a British naval squadron coming down on him that it took the force of Washington's will to keep the man focused on the blockade. Lafayette was great and deserves his statue at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.. Overall, if Washington hadn't been in command during the siege, we'd still be fighting the war. Also, Cornwallis didn't actually surrender as it shows in the famous painting. He sent a deputy, pleading that he was sick and couldn't attend the surrender ceremony. The war didn't end until the treaty was signed on September 3rd, 1783, but with the British forces defeated at Yorktown, Parliament could not muster the will to continue the fight. They were done. [13] [14]

The Articles of Confederation Are Ratified

The first draft of the Articles of Confederation was begun in 1776 and sent out for ratification by the 13 colonies in 1777. In the meantime a lot has happened. Vermont has split from New York and become it's own state. (Go Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys!) George Washington has won the war at Yorktown though a formal end of the war won't happen for another two years or so. The Articles were put together to define a relationship between the old colonies of the British Empire for the purposes of mutual defense against British oppression. It is finally ratified this year. It defines the union of 13 states that call themselves the United States of America. [15] [16]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Articles defined a fairly loose confederation so when it said "United States" it meant plural states similar to the modern European Union, but with less power than the European Union in some respects. After the experience with the lack of funding for the America Revolution, George Washington and James Madison promoted changes to the Articles of the Confederation to make a more powerful federal government. They wanted to replace the Articles entirely, but they didn't think they could get it done. What resulted from their efforts was the US Constitution. As the Constitution went out for ratification, they believed that they had failed in their purpose. It was only later that they realized they had something really good. [17]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1781, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Uranus - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 7 April 2016. “Uranus had been observed on many occasions before its recognition as a planet, but it was generally mistaken for a star. Possibly the earliest known observation was by Hipparchos, who in 128 BC may have recorded it as a star for his star catalogue that was later incorporated into Ptolemy's Almagest. The earliest definite sighting was in 1690 when John Flamsteed observed it at least six times, cataloguing it as 34 Tauri. The French astronomer Pierre Lemonnier observed Uranus at least twelve times between 1750 and 1769, including on four consecutive nights.”
  2. John Flamsteed - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 5 May 2016. “Flamsteed accurately calculated the solar eclipses of 1666 and 1668. He was responsible for several of the earliest recorded sightings of the planet Uranus, which he mistook for a star and catalogued as '34 Tauri'. The first of these was in December 1690, which remains the earliest known sighting of Uranus by an astronomer.”
  3. Astronomical symbols - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “A globe surmounted by the letter H (for Herschel)”
  4. Holmes, Richard. Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, The. Pantheon Books. ISBN 9780307378323. “On 22 March Herschel tentatively communicated his preliminary observations of 'a Comet' to William Watson, who passed them on to Nevil Maskelyne and Joseph Banks at the Royal Society. [...] A week later Herschel followed this up with a direct report to the Royal Society, which was logged in the Society's ‘Copy Journal Book' for 2 April. Now he expressed barely muted excitement: ‘Saw the Diameter of the Comet extremely well defined and distinct; with several different powers thro' my 20 foot Newtonian reflector.'” 
  5. Episode 410: Planet 9 Facts and Fiction. Astronomy Cast (2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “The discovery of Planet 9 has caused a wonderful, confusing uproar and a flood of misinformation in the news and social media. We’ll sort out what we actually know, what things just aren’t true, and what things might be possible!”
  6. Planet Nine - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “Planet Nine is a hypothetical large planet in the far outer Solar System, the gravitational effects of which would explain the unusual orbital configuration of a group of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) that orbit mostly beyond the Kuiper belt.”
  7. Planet Nine: A world that shouldn't exist. Phys.org (May 3, 2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “Planet Nine circles our Sun at a distance of about 40 billion to 140 billion miles, or 400 - 1500 astronomical units. (An astronomical unit or A.U. is the average distance of the Earth from the Sun, or 93 million miles.) This places it far beyond all the other planets in our solar system.”
  8. Is Mysterious 'Planet Nine' Tugging on NASA Saturn Probe?. Scientific American (April 5, 2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “The good news does not end there. If Planet Nine is located toward the constellation Cetus, then it could be picked up by the Dark Energy Survey, a Southern Hemisphere observation project designed to probe the acceleration of the universe.”
  9. Cetus - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “Cetusis a constellation. Its name refers to Cetus, a sea monster in Greek mythology, although it is often called 'the whale' today.”
  10. Middlekauff, Robert. Washington's Revolution: The Making of America's First Leader. Knopf. ISBN 9781101874233. “Near the middle of summer, amid a flurry of orders and actions, Cornwallis decided to keep his army intact, pull out units still remaining at Portsmouth, and dig in at Yorktown and at Gloucester Point, across the York River. These sites, he knew, were far from ideal. British generals always preferred the high ground; Yorktown was on low ground. The lay of the land left no choice but to fortify fields exposed to enemy artillery. Nor did the land lend itself to the protection of big ships. Cornwallis had his doubts about his orders, but he resolved to make the best of things, and put his men to digging in as August began.” 
  11. George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution. Sentinel. “Both McLane and the codebook made it safely off Long Island and down to Virginia by the end of the summer, and Washington was able to transport the book to Admiral de Grasse's custody by mid-September. In French hands, it was a more effective resource than the Americans could have dared hope for, and its loss was more devastating than the British could have imagined.” 
  12. Battle of Guilford Court House - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “The battle lasted only ninety minutes. The British were outnumbered more than two to one, yet defeated the American force; however, in doing so they lost over a quarter of their men. The British, by taking ground with their accustomed tenacity when engaged with superior numbers, were tactically victorious. Seeing this as a classic Pyrrhic victory, British Whig Party leader and war critic Charles James Fox echoed Plutarch's famous words by saying, 'Another such victory would ruin the British Army!'”
  13. Siege of Yorktown - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “Cornwallis refused to meet formally with Washington, and also refused to come to the ceremony of surrender, claiming illness. Instead, Brigadier General Charles O'Hara presented the sword of surrender to Rochambeau. Rochambeau shook his head and pointed to Washington. O'Hara offered it to Washington, but he refused to accept it, and motioned to his second in command, Benjamin Lincoln, who had been humiliated by the British at Charleston, to accept it.”
  14. Treaty of Paris (1783) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “The Treaty of Paris, signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War and Britain acknowledged the United States to be sovereign and independent.”
  15. Ethan Allen - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “As the war had ended with the 1783 Treaty of Paris, and the United States, operating under the Articles of Confederation, resisted any significant action with respect to Vermont, Allen's historic role as an agitator became less important, and his public role in Vermont's affairs declined.”
  16. Articles of Confederation - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 6 May 2016. “The formal ratification by all thirteen states was completed in early 1781. Government under the Articles was superseded by a new constitution and federal form of government in 1789.”
  17. Alex Shrugged notes: My remarks come from my memory of the reading I've been doing for the history segments on the American Revolution. I've read several books on the subject, cover-to-cover. I'm not claiming to remember everything exactly. In fact, that would be a very foolish claim to make, but I think I got it right. If you see a mistake, point it out.

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