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The Tenth Planet

             Astronomers at Australia's Royal Observatory assisted John Murray in the astronomical equivalent of the hunt for the White Whale. Murray believes that there is a tenth planet that's a thousand more times further than Pluto is. It may be as much as 10 times more massive than Jupiter that's if it exists.
             Murray believes he has a good reason to believe that there is a tenth planet. He first started to believe it when he was studying comets and suddenly noticed that an improbable large number of them top out at about the same distance from the sun, roughly 3 trillion to 4.5 trillion miles away. Murray found their motions to be even more peculiar when he zeroed in on the 13 comets with the most accurately established orbits. "They all aligned along a band, as would be expected if they had been perturbed by some large body. The odds of this happening by chance are 1,700 to one, he says."(Pg. 76).
             Murray worked backwards from the 13 orbits and tracked Planet X to a region of the sky centered on the time constellation Delphinus, located in the northern sky. In a single snapshot, the telescope took in 40 square degrees of sky and at least 100,000 stars. One could be planet X. Murray hopes to match one of the stars with a picture that was taken six months earlier. He is also comparing the movements.
             So far the search has got nothing. Planet X is too faint to find even with the UK Schmidt Telescope. Murray still keeps busy with his full-time work. They are still going to take a few more pictures and see what they can find.
             Not everyone agrees with Murray. Harold Levison admits that Earth-sized planets could be floating undetected in the Oort cloud, but he doubts anything as big as Jupiter is out there. .
             From 1908 until his death, Percival Lowell, an aristocrat engaged in a search for Planet X, whose gravitational bug could account for discrepancies in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930.

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