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Written By: grant on January 17, 2014 No Comment

Nature examines he implications of a planet that *should* be a twin to Earth, but isn’t – because it’s a gassy Earth-sized planet:

Not only is the planet too warm for liquid water to exist on its surface, but it also has a radius 60% larger than Earth, suggesting a vast, puffy atmosphere of hydrogen and helium.

“You’ve got a [...]

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Written By: grant on January 12, 2014 No Comment
Science Art: <i>The Kepler Orrery II</i>

Click to view animation.

A visualization of every solar system discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope as of February 2012 – that’s 885 plaents in 361 systems. There’s a longer version of the animation at NASA’s Kepler site.

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Written By: grant on January 8, 2014 No Comment

SEN has us baffled by a recently discovered planet that shouldn’t be there:

The new world is the farthest out from its home star of any previously found. It is 11 times more massive than Jupiter and orbits the single, Sun-like star at 650 times the distance that the Earth circles the Sun, or 20 times the orbit of [...]

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Written By: grant on December 26, 2013 No Comment

Nature celebrates (sort of) a discovery that makes it just a smidge more likely that there’s life somewhere else out there – a little blip that probably means there’s a moon orbiting a faraway planet just like ours orbits Earth:

On a June night two years ago, a telescope in New Zealand captured a momentary brightening of a star [...]

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Written By: grant on December 15, 2013 No Comment
Science Art: <i>Theoria Lunae</i> from <i>Harmonia Macrocosmica</i> by Andreas Cellarius.


Click to embiggen

In 1660, Dutch-German cartographer Andreas Cellarius created an atlas of the stars.

This map shows how people thought the moon moved in 1660 – in epicycles. Before we knew planets had elliptical orbits, these circles-within-circles explained why heavenly bodies seemed to speed up and slow down as they moved across the sky. Now, we know it’s [...]

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Written By: grant on December 8, 2013 No Comment
Science Art: <i>Cumulative Absorption Spectrum, Hubble Telescope</i> by NASA/STScI.

This is how spectroscopy works – how you can tell what’s floating around in space even when you can’t see it, only light that passes *through* it. The Hubble Space Telescope is especially good at this. It’s got an imaging spectroscope on board.

[via]

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Written By: grant on December 4, 2013 No Comment

Science Daily has Hubble’s latest clue to finding life elsewhere in space. The telescope has found five distant, watery worlds:

The five planets — WASP-17b, HD209458b, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b — orbit nearby stars. The strengths of their water signatures varied. WASP-17b, a planet with an especially puffed-up atmosphere, and HD209458b had the strongest signals. The signatures for the [...]

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Written By: grant on December 1, 2013 No Comment
Science Art: <i>Solar System</i> by Johannes Kepler, <i>Mysterium Cosmographicum</i>

In the book Mysterium Comsmographicum, Johannes Kepler started mapping out how planets worked.

The idea here is that the solar system is structured according to the Platonic solids, one nesting in the other.

Later on, Kepler figured out how gravity worked and that the real geometry of planetary motion was a circle with two centers – an

Written By: grant on October 23, 2013 No Comment

SONG: “The Hardest of Carbon” (To download: double right-click & “Save As”)

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “Diamond drizzle forecast for Saturn and Jupiter,” Nature, 9 October 2013, as used in the post “Sooty, with a chance of diamonds.”

ABSTRACT: I guess I’ve done a song on a planet made of diamonds, so a companion piece [...]

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