Wikipedia:Main Page history/2010 December 16

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The dwarf planet Ceres

A dwarf planet is a celestial body orbiting the Sun that is massive enough to be spherical as a result of its own gravity but has not cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals and is not a satellite. They are smaller than planets, but more massive than small solar system bodies. The term was adopted in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) as a result of the increase in discoveries of trans-Neptunian objects that rivaled Pluto in size, and finally precipitated by the discovery of an even more massive object, Eris. The IAU currently recognizes five dwarf planets—Ceres (pictured), Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris. It is suspected that at least another 40 known objects in the Solar System are dwarf planets, but the number might be as high as 2,000. The 2006 definition has been both praised and criticized, and has been disputed by some scientists. (more...)

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Cropped photograph of Philadelphia Athletics slugger Socks Seybold, c. 1902

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December 16: Day of Ashura (Islam, 2010); National Day in Bahrain (1971); Victory Day in Bangladesh (1971); Independence Day in Kazakhstan (1991)

Andries Pretorius

More anniversaries: December 15December 16December 17

Today's featured picture

Frontispiece to A Memoir of Jane Austen

The frontispiece to A Memoir of Jane Austen, a biography of the author Jane Austen (1775–1817), written by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh and published 52 years after her death. Common to biographies written in the Victorian era, it did not attempt to unreservedly tell the story of the author's life, but instead kept much private information from the public. The Memoir generated popular interest in the works of Jane Austen, which only a literary elite had read up until that point. The art for the frontispiece took some liberties with the original painting, softening Austen's features in the Victorian style.

Image: James Andrews, after Cassandra Austen
Restoration: Adam Cuerden/Staxringold

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