A trans-Neptunian object written transneptunian object, is any minor planet in the Solar System that orbits the Sun at a greater average distance than Neptune, which has a semi-major axis of 30.1 astronomical units. TNOs are further divided into the classical and resonant objects of the Kuiper belt, the scattered disc and detached objects with the sednoids being the most distant ones; as of October 2018, the catalog of minor planets contains 528 numbered and more than 2,000 unnumbered TNOs. The first trans-Neptunian object to be discovered was Pluto in 1930, it took until 1992 to discover a second trans-Neptunian object orbiting the Sun directly, 15760 Albion. The most massive TNO known is Eris, followed by Pluto, 2007 Makemake and Haumea. More than 80 satellites have been discovered in orbit of trans-Neptunian objects. TNOs vary in color and are either grey-blue or red, they are thought to be composed of mixtures of rock, amorphous carbon and volatile ices such as water and methane, coated with tholins and other organic compounds.
Twelve minor planets with a semi-major axis greater than 150 AU and perihelion greater than 30 AU are known, which are called extreme trans-Neptunian objects. The orbit of each of the planets is affected by the gravitational influences of the other planets. Discrepancies in the early 1900s between the observed and expected orbits of Uranus and Neptune suggested that there were one or more additional planets beyond Neptune; the search for these led to the discovery of Pluto in February 1930, too small to explain the discrepancies. Revised estimates of Neptune's mass from the Voyager 2 flyby in 1989 showed that the problem was spurious. Pluto was easiest to find because it has the highest apparent magnitude of all known trans-Neptunian objects, it has a lower inclination to the ecliptic than most other large TNOs. After Pluto's discovery, American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh continued searching for some years for similar objects, but found none. For a long time, no one searched for other TNOs as it was believed that Pluto, which up to August 2006 was classified a planet, was the only major object beyond Neptune.
Only after the 1992 discovery of a second TNO, 15760 Albion, did systematic searches for further such objects begin. A broad strip of the sky around the ecliptic was photographed and digitally evaluated for moving objects. Hundreds of TNOs were found, with diameters in the range of 50 to 2,500 kilometers. Eris, the most massive TNO, was discovered in 2005, revisiting a long-running dispute within the scientific community over the classification of large TNOs, whether objects like Pluto can be considered planets. Pluto and Eris were classified as dwarf planets by the International Astronomical Union. On Monday, December 17, 2018 the discovery of 2018 VG18, nicknamed “Farout”, was announced. Farout is the most distant solar system object so-far observed and is about 120 AU away from the sun taking more than 1,000 years to complete one orbit. According to their distance from the Sun and their orbital parameters, TNOs are classified in two large groups: the Kuiper belt objects and the scattered disc objects.
The diagram to the right illustrates the distribution of known trans-Neptunian objects in relation to the orbits of the planets and the centaurs for reference. Different classes are represented in different colours. Resonant objects are plotted in classical Kuiper belt objects in blue; the scattered disc extends to the right, far beyond the diagram, with known objects at mean distances beyond 500 AU and aphelia beyond 1000 AU. The Edgeworth-Kuiper belt contains objects with an average distance to the Sun of 30 to about 55 AU having close-to-circular orbits with a small inclination from the ecliptic. Edgeworth-Kuiper belt objects are further classified into the resonant trans-Neptunian object, that are locked in an orbital resonance with Neptune, the classical Kuiper belt objects called "cubewanos", that have no such resonance, moving on circular orbits, unperturbed by Neptune. There are a large number of resonant subgroups, the largest being the twotinos and the plutinos, named after their most prominent member, Pluto.
Members of the classical Edgeworth-Kuiper belt include 50000 Quaoar and Makemake. The scattered disc contains objects farther from the Sun, with eccentric and inclined orbits; these orbits are non-planetary-orbit-crossing. A typical example is the most massive known Eris. Based on the Tisserand parameter relative to Neptune, the objects in the scattered disc can be further divided into the "typical" scattered disc objects with a TN of less than 3, into the detached objects with a TN greater than 3. In addition, detached objects have a time-averaged eccentricity greater than 0.2 The Sednoids are a further extreme sub-grouping of the detached objects with perihelia so distant that it is confirmed that their orbits cannot be explained by perturbations from the giant planets, nor by interaction with the galactic tides. Given the apparent magnitude of all but the biggest trans-Neptunian objects, the physical studies are limited to the following: thermal emissions for the largest objects colour indices, i.e. comparisons of the apparent magnitudes using different filters analysis of spectra and infraredStudying colours and spectra provides insight into the objects' origin and a potential correlation with other classes of objects, namely centaurs and some satellites of giant planets, suspected to originate in the Kuiper belt.
A minor-planet moon is an astronomical object that orbits a minor planet as its natural satellite. As of February 2019, there are 352 minor planets suspected to have moons. Discoveries of minor-planet moons are important because the determination of their orbits provides estimates on the mass and density of the primary, allowing insights of their physical properties, not otherwise possible; the first modern era mention of the possibility of an asteroid satellite was in connection with an occultation of the bright star Gamma Ceti by the asteroid 6 Hebe in 1977. The observer, amateur astronomer Paul D. Maley, detected an unmistakable 0.5 second disappearance of this naked eye star from a site near Victoria, Texas. Many hours several observations were reported in Mexico attributed to the occultation by 6 Hebe itself. Although not confirmed, this documents the first formally documented case of a suspected companion of an asteroid. In addition to the terms satellite and moon, the term "binary" is sometimes used for minor planets with moons, "triple" for minor planets with two moons.
If one object is much bigger it can be referred to as the primary and its companion as secondary. The term double asteroid is sometimes used for systems in which the asteroid and its moon are the same size, while binary tends to be used independently from the relative sizes of the components; when binary minor planets are similar in size, the Minor Planet Center refers to them as "binary companions" instead of referring to the smaller body as a satellite. A good example of a true binary is the 90 Antiope system, identified in August 2000. Small satellites are referred to as moonlets. Prior to the era of the Hubble Space Telescope and space probes reaching the outer Solar System, attempts to detect satellites around asteroids were limited to optical observations from Earth. For example, in 1978, stellar occultation observations were claimed as evidence of a satellite for the asteroid 532 Herculina; however more-detailed imaging by the Hubble Telescope did not reveal a satellite, the current consensus is that Herculina does not have a significant satellite.
There were other similar reports of asteroids having companions in the following years. A letter in Sky & Telescope magazine at this time pointed to simultaneous impact craters on Earth, suggesting that these craters were caused by pairs of gravitationally bound objects. In 1993, the first asteroid moon was confirmed when the Galileo probe discovered the small Dactyl orbiting 243 Ida in the asteroid belt; the second was discovered around 45 Eugenia in 1998. In 2001, 617 Patroclus and its same-sized companion Menoetius became the first known binary asteroids in the Jupiter trojans; the first trans-Neptunian binary after Pluto–Charon, 1998 WW31, was optically resolved in 2002. Triple or trinary minor planets, are known since 2005, when the asteroid 87 Sylvia was discovered to have two satellites, making it the first known triple system; this was followed by the discovery of a second moon orbiting 45 Eugenia. In 2005, the dwarf planet Haumea was discovered to have two moons, making it the second trans-Neptunian object after Pluto known to have more than one moon.
Additionally, 216 Kleopatra and 93 Minerva were discovered to be trinary asteroids in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Since the first few triple minor planets were discovered, more continue to be discovered at a rate of about one a year. Most discovered were two moons orbiting large near-earth asteroid 3122 Florence, bringing the number of known trinary systems in the Solar System up to 14; the following table lists all satellites of triple systems chronologically by their discovery date, starting with Charon, discovered in 1978. The data about the populations of binary objects are still patchy. In addition to the inevitable observational bias the frequency appears to be different among different categories of objects. Among asteroids, an estimated 2% would have satellites. Among trans-Neptunian objects, an estimated 11% are thought to be binary or multiple objects, the majority of the large TNOs have at least one satellite, including all four IAU-listed dwarf planets. More than 50 binaries are known in each of the main groupings: near-Earth asteroids, belt asteroids, trans-Neptunian objects, not including numerous claims based on light-curve variation.
Two binaries have been found so far among centaurs with semi-major axes smaller than Neptune. Both are double ring systems around 2060 Chiron and 10199 Chariklo, discovered in 1994–2011 and 2013 respectively; the origin of minor-planet moons is not known with certainty, a variety of theories exist. A accepted theory is that minor-planet moons are formed from debris knocked off of the primary by an impact. Other pairings may be formed. Formation by collision is constrained by the angular momentum of the components, i.e. by the masses and their separation. Close binaries fit this model. Distant binaries however, with components of comparable size, are unlikely to have followed this scenario, unless considerable mass has been lost in the event; the distances of the components for the known binaries vary from a few hundreds of kilometres to more than 3000 km for the asteroids. Among TNOs, the known separations vary from 3,000 to 50,000 km. What is "typical" for a binary system tends to depend on its location in the Solar System (presumably because of different modes
The scattered disc is a distant circumstellar disc in the Solar System, sparsely populated by icy small solar system bodies, which are a subset of the broader family of trans-Neptunian objects. The scattered-disc objects have orbital eccentricities ranging as high as 0.8, inclinations as high as 40°, perihelia greater than 30 astronomical units. These extreme orbits are thought to be the result of gravitational "scattering" by the gas giants, the objects continue to be subject to perturbation by the planet Neptune. Although the closest scattered-disc objects approach the Sun at about 30–35 AU, their orbits can extend well beyond 100 AU; this makes scattered objects among most distant objects in the Solar System. The innermost portion of the scattered disc overlaps with a torus-shaped region of orbiting objects traditionally called the Kuiper belt, but its outer limits reach much farther away from the Sun and farther above and below the ecliptic than the Kuiper belt proper; because of its unstable nature, astronomers now consider the scattered disc to be the place of origin for most periodic comets in the Solar System, with the centaurs, a population of icy bodies between Jupiter and Neptune, being the intermediate stage in an object's migration from the disc to the inner Solar System.
Perturbations from the giant planets send such objects towards the Sun, transforming them into periodic comets. Many objects of the proposed Oort cloud are thought to have originated in the scattered disc. Detached objects are not distinct from scattered disc objects, some such as Sedna have sometimes been considered to be included in this group. Traditionally, devices like a blink comparator were used in astronomy to detect objects in the Solar System, because these objects would move between two exposures—this involved time-consuming steps like exposing and developing photographic plates or films, people using a blink comparator to manually detect prospective objects. During the 1980s, the use of CCD-based cameras in telescopes made it possible to directly produce electronic images that could be digitized and transferred to digital images; because the CCD captured more light than film and the blinking could now be done at an adjustable computer screen, the surveys allowed for higher throughput.
A flood of new discoveries was the result: over a thousand trans-Neptunian objects were detected between 1992 and 2006. The first scattered-disc object to be recognised as such was 1996 TL66 identified in 1996 by astronomers based at Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Three more were identified by the same survey in 1999: 1999 CV118, 1999 CY118, 1999 CF119; the first object presently classified as an SDO to be discovered was 1995 TL8, found in 1995 by Spacewatch. As of 2011, over 200 SDOs have been identified, including Gǃkúnǁʼhòmdímà, 2002 TC302, Sedna and 2004 VN112. Although the numbers of objects in the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc are hypothesized to be equal, observational bias due to their greater distance means that far fewer SDOs have been observed to date. Known trans-Neptunian objects are divided into two subpopulations: the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc. A third reservoir of trans-Neptunian objects, the Oort cloud, has been hypothesized, although no confirmed direct observations of the Oort cloud have been made.
Some researchers further suggest a transitional space between the scattered disc and the inner Oort cloud, populated with "detached objects". The Kuiper belt is a thick torus of space, extending from about 30 to 50 AU comprising two main populations of Kuiper belt objects: the classical Kuiper-belt objects, which lie in orbits untouched by Neptune, the resonant Kuiper-belt objects; these ratios, called orbital resonances, allow KBOs to persist in regions which Neptune's gravitational influence would otherwise have cleared out over the age of the Solar System, since the objects are never close enough to Neptune to be scattered by its gravity. Those in 2:3 resonances are known as "plutinos", because Pluto is the largest member of their group, whereas those in 1:2 resonances are known as "twotinos". In contrast to the Kuiper belt, the scattered-disc population can be disturbed by Neptune. Scattered-disc objects come within gravitational range of Neptune at their closest approaches but their farthest distances reach many times that.
Ongoing research suggests that the centaurs, a class of icy planetoids that orbit between Jupiter and Neptune, may be SDOs thrown into the inner reaches of the Solar System by Neptune, making them "cis-Neptunian" rather than trans-Neptunian scattered objects. Some objects, like 1999 TD10, blur the distinction and the Minor Planet Center, which catalogues all trans-Neptunian objects, now lists centaurs and SDOs together; the MPC, makes a clear distinction between the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc, separating those objects in stable orbits from those in scattered orbits. However, the difference between the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc is not clear-cut, many astronomers see the scattered disc not as a separate population but as an outward region of the Kuiper belt. Another term used is "scattered Kuiper-belt object" for bodies of the scattered d
The Oort cloud, named after the Dutch astronomer Jan Oort, sometimes called the Öpik–Oort cloud, is a hypothetical cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals proposed to surround the Sun at distances ranging from 2,000 to 200,000 AU. It is divided into two regions: a spherical outer Oort cloud. Both regions lie in interstellar space; the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc, the other two reservoirs of trans-Neptunian objects, are less than one thousandth as far from the Sun as the Oort cloud. The outer limit of the Oort cloud defines the cosmographical boundary of the Solar System and the extent of the Sun's Hill sphere; the outer Oort cloud is only loosely bound to the Solar System, thus is affected by the gravitational pull both of passing stars and of the Milky Way itself. These forces dislodge comets from their orbits within the cloud and send them toward the inner Solar System. Based on their orbits, most of the short-period comets may come from the scattered disc, but some may still have originated from the Oort cloud.
Astronomers conjecture that the matter composing the Oort cloud formed closer to the Sun and was scattered far into space by the gravitational effects of the giant planets early in the Solar System's evolution. Although no confirmed direct observations of the Oort cloud have been made, it may be the source of all long-period and Halley-type comets entering the inner Solar System, many of the centaurs and Jupiter-family comets as well; the existence of the Oort cloud was first postulated by Estonian astronomer Ernst Öpik in 1932. Oort independently proposed it in 1950. There are two main classes of comet: long-period comets. Ecliptic comets have small orbits, below 10 AU, follow the ecliptic plane, the same plane in which the planets lie. All long-period comets have large orbits, on the order of thousands of AU, appear from every direction in the sky. A. O. Leuschner in 1907 suggested that many comets believed to have parabolic orbits, thus making single visits to the solar system had elliptical orbits and would return after long periods.
In 1932 Estonian astronomer Ernst Öpik postulated that long-period comets originated in an orbiting cloud at the outermost edge of the Solar System. Dutch astronomer Jan Oort independently revived the idea in 1950 as a means to resolve a paradox: Over the course of the Solar System's existence the orbits of comets are unstable, dynamics dictate that a comet must either collide with the Sun or a planet or else be ejected from the Solar System by planetary perturbations. Moreover, their volatile composition means that as they approach the Sun, radiation boils the volatiles off until the comet splits or develops an insulating crust that prevents further outgassing. Thus, Oort reasoned, a comet could not have formed while in its current orbit and must have been held in an outer reservoir for all of its existence, he noted that there was a peak in numbers of long-period comets with aphelia of 20,000 AU, which suggested a reservoir at that distance with a spherical, isotropic distribution. Those rare comets with orbits of about 10,000 AU have gone through one or more orbits through the Solar System and have had their orbits drawn inward by the gravity of the planets.
The Oort cloud is thought to occupy a vast space from somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 AU to as far as 50,000 AU from the Sun. Some estimates place the outer edge at between 100,000 and 200,000 AU; the region can be subdivided into a spherical outer Oort cloud of 20,000–50,000 AU, a torus-shaped inner Oort cloud of 2,000–20,000 AU. The outer cloud is only weakly bound to the Sun and supplies the long-period comets to inside the orbit of Neptune; the inner Oort cloud is known as the Hills cloud, named after Jack G. Hills, who proposed its existence in 1981. Models predict that the inner cloud should have tens or hundreds of times as many cometary nuclei as the outer halo; the Hills cloud explains the continued existence of the Oort cloud after billions of years. The outer Oort cloud may have trillions of objects larger than 1 km, billions with absolute magnitudes brighter than 11, with neighboring objects tens of millions of kilometres apart, its total mass is not known, assuming that Halley's Comet is a suitable prototype for comets within the outer Oort cloud the combined mass is 3×1025 kilograms, or five times that of Earth.
Earlier it was thought to be more massive, but improved knowledge of the size distribution of long-period comets led to lower estimates. The mass of the inner Oort cloud has not been estimated. If analyses of comets are representative of the whole, the vast majority of Oort-cloud objects consist of ices such as water, ethane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. However, the discovery of the object 1996 PW, an object whose appearance was consistent with a D-type asteroid in an orbit typical of a long-period comet, prompted theoretical research that suggests that the Oort cloud population consists of one to two percent asteroids. Analysis of the carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios in both the long-period and Jupiter-family comets shows little difference between the two, despite their vastly s
The orbital eccentricity of an astronomical object is a parameter that determines the amount by which its orbit around another body deviates from a perfect circle. A value of 0 is a circular orbit, values between 0 and 1 form an elliptic orbit, 1 is a parabolic escape orbit, greater than 1 is a hyperbola; the term derives its name from the parameters of conic sections, as every Kepler orbit is a conic section. It is used for the isolated two-body problem, but extensions exist for objects following a Klemperer rosette orbit through the galaxy. In a two-body problem with inverse-square-law force, every orbit is a Kepler orbit; the eccentricity of this Kepler orbit is a non-negative number. The eccentricity may take the following values: circular orbit: e = 0 elliptic orbit: 0 < e < 1 parabolic trajectory: e = 1 hyperbolic trajectory: e > 1 The eccentricity e is given by e = 1 + 2 E L 2 m red α 2 where E is the total orbital energy, L is the angular momentum, mred is the reduced mass, α the coefficient of the inverse-square law central force such as gravity or electrostatics in classical physics: F = α r 2 or in the case of a gravitational force: e = 1 + 2 ε h 2 μ 2 where ε is the specific orbital energy, μ the standard gravitational parameter based on the total mass, h the specific relative angular momentum.
For values of e from 0 to 1 the orbit's shape is an elongated ellipse. The limit case between an ellipse and a hyperbola, when e equals 1, is parabola. Radial trajectories are classified as elliptic, parabolic, or hyperbolic based on the energy of the orbit, not the eccentricity. Radial orbits hence eccentricity equal to one. Keeping the energy constant and reducing the angular momentum, elliptic and hyperbolic orbits each tend to the corresponding type of radial trajectory while e tends to 1. For a repulsive force only the hyperbolic trajectory, including the radial version, is applicable. For elliptical orbits, a simple proof shows that arcsin yields the projection angle of a perfect circle to an ellipse of eccentricity e. For example, to view the eccentricity of the planet Mercury, one must calculate the inverse sine to find the projection angle of 11.86 degrees. Next, tilt any circular object by that angle and the apparent ellipse projected to your eye will be of that same eccentricity; the word "eccentricity" comes from Medieval Latin eccentricus, derived from Greek ἔκκεντρος ekkentros "out of the center", from ἐκ- ek-, "out of" + κέντρον kentron "center".
"Eccentric" first appeared in English in 1551, with the definition "a circle in which the earth, sun. Etc. deviates from its center". By five years in 1556, an adjectival form of the word had developed; the eccentricity of an orbit can be calculated from the orbital state vectors as the magnitude of the eccentricity vector: e = | e | where: e is the eccentricity vector. For elliptical orbits it can be calculated from the periapsis and apoapsis since rp = a and ra = a, where a is the semimajor axis. E = r a − r p r a + r p = 1 − 2 r a r p + 1 where: ra is the radius at apoapsis. Rp is the radius at periapsis; the eccentricity of an elliptical orbit can be used to obtain the ratio of the periapsis to the apoapsis: r p r a = 1 − e 1 + e For Earth, orbital eccentricity ≈ 0.0167, apoapsis= aphelion and periapsis= perihelion relative to sun. For Earth's annual orbit path, ra/rp ratio = longest_radius / shortest_radius ≈ 1.034 relative to center point of path. The eccentricity of the Earth's orbit is about 0.0167.
An hour is a unit of time conventionally reckoned as 1⁄24 of a day and scientifically reckoned as 3,599–3,601 seconds, depending on conditions. The hour was established in the ancient Near East as a variable measure of 1⁄12 of the night or daytime; such seasonal, temporal, or unequal hours varied by latitude. The hour was subsequently divided into each of 60 seconds. Equal or equinoctial hours were taken as 1⁄24 of the day. Since this unit was not constant due to long term variations in the Earth's rotation, the hour was separated from the Earth's rotation and defined in terms of the atomic or physical second. In the modern metric system, hours are an accepted unit of time defined as 3,600 atomic seconds. However, on rare occasions an hour may incorporate a positive or negative leap second, making it last 3,599 or 3,601 seconds, in order to keep it within 0.9 seconds of UT1, based on measurements of the mean solar day. The modern English word hour is a development of the Anglo-Norman houre and Middle English ure, first attested in the 13th century.
It displaced the Old English "tide" and "stound". The Anglo-Norman term was a borrowing of Old French ure, a variant of ore, which derived from Latin hōra and Greek hṓrā. Like Old English tīd and stund, hṓrā was a vaguer word for any span of time, including seasons and years, its Proto-Indo-European root has been reconstructed as *yeh₁-, making hour distantly cognate with year. The time of day is expressed in English in terms of hours. Whole hours on a 12-hour clock are expressed using the contracted phrase o'clock, from the older of clock. Hours on a 24-hour clock are expressed as "hundred" or "hundred hours". Fifteen and thirty minutes past the hour is expressed as "a quarter past" or "after" and "half past" from their fraction of the hour. Fifteen minutes before the hour may be expressed as "a quarter to", "of", "till", or "before" the hour; the ancient Egyptians began dividing the night into wnwt at some time before the compilation of the Dynasty V Pyramid Texts in the 24th century BC. By 2150 BC, diagrams of stars inside Egyptian coffin lids—variously known as "diagonal calendars" or "star clocks"—attest that there were 12 of these.
Clagett writes that it is "certain" this duodecimal division of the night followed the adoption of the Egyptian civil calendar placed c. 2800 BC on the basis of analyses of the Sothic cycle, but a lunar calendar long predated this and would have had twelve months in each of its years. The coffin diagrams show that the Egyptians took note of the heliacal risings of 36 stars or constellations, one for each of the ten-day "weeks" of their civil calendar; each night, the rising of eleven of these decans were noted, separating the night into twelve divisions whose middle terms would have lasted about 40 minutes each. The original decans used by the Egyptians would have fallen noticeably out of their proper places over a span of several centuries. By the time of Amenhotep III, the priests at Karnak were using water clocks to determine the hours; these were filled to the brim at sunset and the hour determined by comparing the water level against one of its twelve gauges, one for each month of the year.
During the New Kingdom, another system of decans was used, made up of 24 stars over the course of the year and 12 within any one night. The division of the day into 12 hours was accomplished by sundials marked with ten equal divisions; the morning and evening periods when the sundials failed to note time were observed as the first and last hours. The Egyptian hours were connected both with the priesthood of the gods and with their divine services. By the New Kingdom, each hour was conceived as a specific region of the sky or underworld through which Ra's solar barge travelled. Protective deities were used as the names of the hours; as the protectors and resurrectors of the sun, the goddesses of the night hours were considered to hold power over all lifespans and thus became part of Egyptian funerary rituals. Two fire-spitting cobras were said to guard the gates of each hour of the underworld, Wadjet and the rearing cobra were sometimes referenced as wnwt from their role protecting the dead through these gates.
The Egyptian for astronomer, used as a synonym for priest, was wnwty, "One of the Hours" or "Hour-Watcher". The earliest forms of wnwt include one or three stars, with the solar hours including the determinative hieroglyph for "sun". Ancient China divided its day into 100 "marks" running from midnight to midnight; the system is said to have been used since remote antiquity, credited to the legendary Yellow Emperor, but is first attested in Han-era water clocks and in the 2nd-century history of that dynasty. It was measured with sundials and water clocks. Into the Eastern Han, the Chinese measured their day schematically, adding the 20-ke difference between the solstices evenly throughout the year, one every nine days. During the night, time was more commonly
The kilometre, or kilometer is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousand metres. It is now the measurement unit used for expressing distances between geographical places on land in most of the world. K is used in some English-speaking countries as an alternative for the word kilometre in colloquial writing and speech. A slang term for the kilometre in the US and UK military is klick. There are two common pronunciations for the word; the former follows a pattern in English whereby metric units are pronounced with the stress on the first syllable and the pronunciation of the actual base unit does not change irrespective of the prefix. It is preferred by the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Many scientists and other users in countries where the metric system is not used, use the pronunciation with stress on the second syllable; the latter pronunciation follows the stress pattern used for the names of measuring instruments. The problem with this reasoning, however, is that the word meter in those usages refers to a measuring device, not a unit of length.
The contrast is more obvious in countries using the British rather than American spelling of the word metre. When Australia introduced the metric system in 1975, the first pronunciation was declared official by the government's Metric Conversion Board. However, the Australian prime minister at the time, Gough Whitlam, insisted that the second pronunciation was the correct one because of the Greek origins of the two parts of the word. By the 8 May 1790 decree, the Constituent assembly ordered the French Academy of Sciences to develop a new measurement system. In August 1793, the French National Convention decreed the metre as the sole length measurement system in the French Republic; the first name of the kilometre was "Millaire". Although the metre was formally defined in 1799, the myriametre was preferred to the "kilometre" for everyday use; the term "myriamètre" appeared a number of times in the text of Develey's book Physique d'Emile: ou, Principes de la science de la nature, while the term kilometre only appeared in an appendix.
French maps published in 1835 had scales showing myriametres and "lieues de Poste". The Dutch gave it the local name of the mijl, it was only in 1867 that the term "kilometer" became the only official unit of measure in the Netherlands to represent 1000 metres. Two German textbooks dated 1842 and 1848 give a snapshot of the use of the kilometre across Europe - the kilometre was in use in the Netherlands and in Italy and the myriametre was in use in France. In 1935, the International Committee for Weights and Measures abolished the prefix "myria-" and with it the "myriametre", leaving the kilometre as the recognised unit of length for measurements of that magnitude. In the United Kingdom, road signs show distances in miles and location marker posts that are used for reference purposes by road engineers and emergency services show distance references in unspecified units which are kilometre-based; the advent of the mobile phone has been instrumental in the British Department for Transport authorising the use of driver location signs to convey the distance reference information of location marker posts to road users should they need to contact the emergency services.
In the US, the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 prohibits the use of federal-aid highway funds to convert existing signs or purchase new signs with metric units. The Executive Director of the US Federal Highway Administration, Jeffrey Paniati, wrote in a 2008 memo: "Section 205 of the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 prohibited us from requiring any State DOT to use the metric system during project development activities. Although the State DOT's had the option of using metric measurements or dual units, all of them abandoned metric measurements and reverted to sole use of inch-pound values." The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices since 2000 is published in both metric and American Customary Units. Some sporting disciplines feature 1000 m races in major events, but in other disciplines though world records are catalogued, the one kilometre event remains a minority event; the world records for various sporting disciplines are: Conversion of units, for comparison with other units of length Cubic metre Metric prefix Mileage Odometer Orders of magnitude Square kilometre Media related to Distance indicators at Wikimedia Commons