Overview: Xena: The Tenth Planet?

Overview
of Star Witness news story: Xena: The Tenth Planet?
Description:
Star Witness news story: Xena: The Tenth Planet? explains how the Hubble Space Telescope was used to measure the size of object 2003 UB313, nicknamed "Xena." Xena is just a little larger than Pluto. Based on size alone, Xena might be considered a planet, but there are other factors to consider. This selection is an adaptation of the HubbleSite press release: Hubble Finds that the 'Tenth Planet' is Slightly Larger than Pluto. NOTE: This article was published before the August 2006 International Astronomical Union decision to reclassify Pluto as a "dwarf planet," thereby changing the number of solar system planets to eight. In addition, after publication, Xena was formally named Eris.
Format(s) available: Printer-friendly web page; also, downloadable PDF including story and images
Grades: 5-8, but the material can be adapted for use in other grades at the teacher’s discretion
How to use it in the classroom

Teachers can use Star Witness news story: Xena: The Tenth Planet? as:

A content reading selection. Teachers should discuss the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary prior to having students read this selection.

An engagement activity. Have students read the selection. Ask them whether they think Xena should be called a planet.

An inquiry tool. Propose a question, such as "What have astronomers learned by studying Xena with the Hubble Space Telescope?" Have students read the selection and write down questions they would like answered as a result of the reading.

A source of information. Have students read the selection. Conduct a class discussion using the questions associated with the reading to clarify student understanding and expand on the information provided.

Related materials

HubbleSite press release: Hubble Finds that the "Tenth Planet" is Slightly Larger than Pluto



Overview: Xena: The Tenth Planet?