28 December 2005

Media Mooned by Uranus

Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)

Bad media alert!

This press release from last week (which I posted about here) details the Hubble Telescope's discovery of two new Uranian moons as well as a pair of newly observed rings around the distant gas giant. Unfortunately, a syndicated news story has circulated and been reproduced without some necessary fact-checking. Lisa M. Krieger's article, Discoveries on Uranus full of drama, mystery is currently making its rounds on affilliated outlets, proclaiming:

The new moons, named Cupid and Mab after Shakespearean characters, bring the number of moons circling Uranus to 27 - the most of any planet.

Doh! I'm not quite sure how she arrived at that conclusion, but it's wrong. Jupiter currently has 63 confirmed satellites; Saturn has 47 to its credit including newly-discovered bodies in 2005. Uranus trails in third place behind its more massive neighbors with 27. You can view the current tallies on Scott Sheppard's web page.

Okay, errors happen. This one's just rather, well, surprising.

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