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79 Moons of Jupiter and Counting

A dozen years ago, astronomers debated, “What is a planet?” They may soon have to wrangle another question of solar system classification: “What is a moon?”

On Tuesday, scientists led by Scott S. Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science announced the discovery of a dozen moons around Jupiter, bringing the total number orbiting the solar system’s largest planet to 79.Next to the famous moons that Galileo spotted through his telescope in 1610 — bigger-than-Mercury Ganymede, deeply cratered Callisto, volcanic Io,icy Europa — the new ones are slight. They measure between a half mile and two miles wide and orbit millions of miles from the planet — good explanations for why no one had seen them until now.

read more in www.nytimes.com

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