In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it became possible to believe in the existence of life on other planets on scientific grounds. Once the Earth was no longer the center of the universe according to Copernicus, once Galileo had aimed his telescope at the Moon and found it a rough globe with mountains and seas, the assumption of life on other planets became much less far-fetched. In general there were no actual differences between Earth and Venus, since both planets orbited the Sun, were of similar size, and possessed mountains and an atmosphere. If there is life on Earth, one may ponder why it could not also exist on Venus. In the extraterrestrial life debate of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Moon, our closest celestial body, was the prime candidate for life on other worlds, although a number of scientists and scholars also speculated about life on Venus and on other planets, both within our solar system and beyond its frontiers. Venusians: the Planet Venus in the 18th-Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate
(PDF), from The Journal of Astronomical Data
(JAD) Volume 19
, somewhat via NPR
and their mention of amateur astronomer Thomas Dick's estimations of the populations of the other planets in our solar system
(Archive.org online view of Celestial scenery, or, The Wonders of the planetary system displayed
Ken Condal built an orrery
(a mechanical model of the solar system - wikipedia
), milling the parts himself using CNC machining. Among the videos are those of the orrery in operation
and a time lapse of the construction process
Wired: The Most Badass Moons of our Solar System
| The Moon
| Asteroid Moons
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage
is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan
, Ann Druyan
, and Steven Soter
, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot
. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
Take a tour of the solar system! Tonight, see the wonders of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn! There's only one catch: You'll need to actually step outside to do it. [more inside]
The twin Voyager probes
launched by NASA in 1977 have discovered something new in the heliosheath at the edge of the solar system: it's frothy out there
. Press Release
. Via. Voyager: Previously.
Our solar system may have a ninth planet -- or a tenth, if you're a Pluto sentimentalist. Tyche, which astronomers suspect lurks in the Oort cloud, fifteen thousand times farther away from the sun than the Earth, is thought to be a gas giant four times the size of Jupiter.
We may know for sure in April.
8 Wonders of the Solar System, Made Interactive.
"What might future explorers of the solar system see? Find out by taking an interactive tour through the eyes of Hugo Award-winning artist Ron Miller. Text and narration by Ed Bell." [Via]
Cassini Flies by Tethys and Hyperion,
and the photos so far have been awesome
. I especially want to point out this fascinating view
, which, if you look at it closely
, reveals what appears to be a string of small impact craters, in a straight line over older terrain. What kind of meteor impact could have produced such an excellent formation of craters? Hyperion photos are coming. (Kokogiak's got backup
in case the JRUNS strike.)
Large rock named Huya!
3 years after being discovered a large object (?
) orbiting the sun has been named.
From the Sun
. And beyond lurks the Lobster Nebula...
Aroostook County in Northern Maine has created North America's largest scale model of the Solar System
, to be officially unveiled
tomorrow (Saturday - June 14, 2003). The model runs along 40 miles of highway with a scale of 1 mile to 1 AU
. The project took four years to complete and did not have a budget.
3-D Maps of Nearby Space
"The first detailed map of space within about 1,000 light years of Earth places the solar system in the middle of a large hole that pierces the plane of the galaxy...The new map, produced by University of California, Berkeley, and French astronomers, alters the reigning view of the solar neighborhood." (one view
|links to bigger images
I saw all five of the visible planets in our solar system tonight!
And so can you, if you have clear skies and go outside between 8:45 and 9 p.m. your time this week. Disclaimer - my naked eyes weren't good enough to see Mercury but I could
see it with binoculars.
The Solar System Simulator
to simulate - as realistically as possible - what one would actually see from any point in the Solar System. The software looks up the positions of the Sun, planets and satellites from ephemeris files developed here at JPL, as well as star positions and colors from a variety of stellar databasees, and uses special-purpose renderers to draw a color scene. Texture maps for each of the planets and physical models for planetary rings have been derived (in most cases) from scientific data collected by various JPL spacecraft.' Far too complicated for me to even begin to understand, still I've always wondered what Saturn looks like
Reflections on a Mote of Dust
"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam."
Carl Sagan "Pale Blue Dot"