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
posted by filthy light thief
on Aug 21, 2014 -
"A mission scientist with NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, Natalie Batalha hunts for exoplanets — Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system that might harbor life. She speaks about unexpected connections between things like love and dark energy, science and gratitude, and how "exploring the heavens" brings the beauty of the cosmos and the exuberance of scientific discovery closer to us all
". (Audio link of interview at top left corner of page, other relevant links at bottom of page)
posted by Brandon Blatcher
on Feb 17, 2013 -
The United States Department of Defense has generously
"decided to give NASA two telescopes as big as, and even more powerful than, the Hubble Space Telescope." They apparently had some antiquated spy satellite hardware sitting around unused and unwanted. NASA still needs to find money to outfit them with recording instruments and pay a team to manage them, which may take 8 years
posted by crayz
on Jun 4, 2012 -
Supernova Sonata by Alex Parker
From April, 2003 until August, 2006, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
watched four parts of the sky as often as possible. Armed with the largest digital camera in the known universe, CFHT monitored these four fields for a special type of supernova
(called Type Ia) which are created by the thermonuclear detonation of one or more white-dwarf star
s. Each supernova is assigned a note to be played:
The volume of the note is determined by the distance to the supernova, with more distant supernova being quieter and fainter.
The pitch of the note was determined by the supernova’s “stretch,” a property of how the supernova brightens and fades. Higher stretch values played higher notes. The pitches were drawn from a Phrygian dominant scale
The instrument the note was played on was determined by the properties of the galaxy which hosted each supernova. Supernovae hosted by massive galaxies are played with a stand-up bass, while supernovae hosted by less massive galaxies are played with a grand piano.
posted by ThenCameNow
on May 26, 2011 -
On July 17th, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
(WISE) satellite completed its first survey of the entire sky viewable from Earth
. After just seven months in orbit, WISE -- a precursor to the planned James Webb Space Telescope
-- has returned more than a million images that provide a close look at celestial objects
ranging from distant galaxies
. The first release of WISE data, covering about 80 percent of the sky, will be delivered to the astronomical community in May of next year
, but in the meantime we can see some of the images and animations that NASA has released to date: Galleries (containing just a small selection of images)
. Videos and Animations: 1
, 2 [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jul 24, 2010 -
planet-hunting probe "Corot"
, the first spacecraft able to detect rocky planets down to about twice Earth's size. Its 2.5 year mission will be to seek out new planets from a field of about 200,000 nearby stars.
posted by stbalbach
on Dec 27, 2006 -
Ground-based astronomy could be impossible in 40 years because of pollution from aircraft exhaust trails and climate change, an expert says.
posted by goldism
on Mar 2, 2006 -
is a fairly new addition to the Gawker
Media family of blogs, publishers of another personal favorite in the Gizmodo
posts articles on how to do all sorts of things better/quicker/cooler/cheaper:
In its three short weeks of life, Lifehacker has given me good tips at a shockingly high frequency. Of course, the whole thing comes full circle with their frequent Ask Metafilter Roundup
posted by mcstayinskool
on Feb 23, 2005 -
Hubble harvests 100 new planets
during a 7-day sweep of the bulge of the Milky Way.. If confirmed it would almost double the number of known planets to about 230. "I think this work has the potential to be the most significant advance in discovering extra-solar planetary systems since the first planets were discovered in the mid-1990s.
posted by stbalbach
on Jul 1, 2004 -
The Best of Hubble
Its mission will end in 2010. Four years later it will re-enter the atmosphere and burn up. Many astronomers are calling for Hubble to be refurbished
and its mission extended to 2020. Here
are some of it's best pictures.
posted by reverendX
on Dec 10, 2003 -
Breathtaking Hubble picture
of the Sombrero Galaxy (also identified as M104). The Hubble Heritage team took the original images during May and June of this year using the Advanced Camera for Surveys and multiple color filters. They then stitched 6 images together to make the final composite image.
posted by Irontom
on Oct 10, 2003 -
NASA scientists want to know what the pristine inside of a comet looks like. What better way, then, than by blowing a 25-meter crater in one? Comet Tempel 1
, to be specific. Even better, send them your name
and they'll put it on a disc attached to the impactor spacecraft, which will be launched on December 30, 2004. It'll hit on the 4th of July, 2005.
posted by gottabefunky
on May 13, 2003 -
It's nice to know that people can still have big dreams.
This is not hallucination; these guys are very serious and very practical and their credentials suggest that they know exactly what they're doing. It's the same team which is just finishing the Very Large Telescope
project, which when complete
will be the biggest scope in the world, and will be more sensitive and get better pictures than the Hubble. Scopes #1 and #2 are now online, #3 is in engineering shakeout, and first light for #4 is coming shortly. All four scopes will work together
to generate images using interferometry.
posted by Steven Den Beste
on Jun 17, 2000 -
Speaking of retrotech, the latest group of space shuttle jockies just upgraded the Hubble
to a rockin' Intel 486 chip, replacing the apparently inadequate 386 that previously provided the brains to the wobbly eye in the sky.
posted by grant
on Dec 28, 1999 -