2.WELCOME TO THE SOLAR SYSTEM
Astronomers these days can do the most amazing things. If someone struck a match on the Moon, they could spot the flare. From the tiniest throbs and wobbles of distant stars they can infer the size and character and even potential habitability of planets much too remote to be seen—planets so distant that it would take us half a million years in a spaceship to get there.
With their radio telescopes they can capture wisps of radiation so preposterously faint that the total amount of energy collected from outside the solar system by all of them together since collecting began (in 1951) is "less than the energy of a single snowflake striking the ground," in the words of Carl Sagan.
In short, there isn't a great deal that goes on in the universe that astronomers can't find when they have a mind to. Which is why it is all the more remarkable to reflect that until 1978 no one had ever noticed that Pluto has a moon. In the summer of that year, a young astronomer named James Christy at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, was making a routine examination of photographic images of Pluto when he saw that there was something there—something blurry and uncertain but definitely other than Pluto.
Consulting a colleague named Robert Harrington, he concluded that what he was looking at was a moon. And it wasn't just any moon. Relative to the planet, it was the biggest moon in the solar system.