This week's contest has taught me two things about our readers: (a) You are funny. (b) You are smart. Approximately three milliseconds after I posed the initial question ("what is that thing?"), Drew Hicks wrote in to tell us it was:
a picture of the rock Vesta. About 500 kilometers across, it orbits out past Mars. The image is a false color conglomerate made by the Hubble telescope. The small portion of the picture shown actually shows a large crater that covers pretty much its entire southern hemisphere. Another interesting tidbit, this "˜rock' could possibly be reclassified as a planet by next week's end.
Indeed. Vesta, which last we checked is still just a plain old rock, looks like this:
So Drew wins the "correct answer" part of the contest (send us your contact info and we'll get your book on its way!). The winner of the "creative answer" part will be announced on Monday -- and by the way, we are loving the entries we have already. You can send us more up until 9 EDT tonight. But we know what you're really interested in right now is Pluto -- more on that later today.