Astronomers Discover

Three More Planets

* Be glad you don't have to memorize the names of all the planets.

Astronomers recently discovered three new small ones orbiting stars outside our solar system.

Newfound planets are not exactly news. In recent years astronomers have found more than 100 giant gas planets orbiting distant stars. However, the latest three (called extrasolar because they orbit stars other than our sun) are more similar to Earth both in size and distance from their stars. The new discoveries are 14 to 18 times the size of Earth, or roughly the size of Uranus or Neptune.

The big prize for astronomers would be to find an Earth-size planet capable of supporting life. The new discoveries bring scientists closer to finding a planet like our own.

No Child at Play

* A 242-pound bear got loose at a German zoo Sunday and frolicked on a playground for 30 minutes before being knocked out by tranquilizer darts.

The Andean spectacled bear, named Juan, "hauled himself over a wall and made for the carousel," a zoo official said. The bear also went down the slide. Zookeepers distracted Juan by putting a bicycle in his path, fired the darts, then lugged the unconscious bear back to his pit.

An escaped bear played with a bike but didn't have a helmet.