Earth’s Twin Discovered!

Since the explosion of exoplanet science in the late 1990s, our entire understanding of the universe beyond our own solar system has changed.  We have confirmed over 1,000 planets orbiting other stars, with another 3500 waiting to be confirmed by subsequent observations.  As we search, our prime directive has always been to improve our technology to determine if other Earths exist, and to seek them out.  Every year we have added another discovery that brings us closer to finding a twin of the planet Earth in space.  Today we have come one step closer, and it is indeed a big step....

Distances in Astronomy

How do we determine the size of the Universe? How do we know how far away the planets and stars are? How can we measure it without ever being there? The answer, as it always is in Astronomy, is light! More Photons = More Science! Here’s my video explaining the concepts of Parallax, spectroscopic parallax, and type 1a supernovae!   Space is big, and although we can figure out how big it is, its another challenge all together to understand and comprehend its sheer size.

Think the Seasons are Crazy here? Check out Kepler-432b!

It’s been cold lately.  The temperature has fallen somewhere between Hoth and Pluto, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.  It seems we complain about the weather no matter the season.  It’s too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too bright, too dark.  We do have a lot of variation in the seasons, but compared to some other planets, Earth is pretty mild in its climate. One such case is the recently discovered Kepler 432b.  A massive planet six times heavier than Jupiter with a comparable size, it orbits closer to its parent star than Mercury...

Planets as Old as Time Itself

There has been a lot of planetary news lately, in our own solar system and beyond.  With the DAWN spacecraft approaching Ceres, New Horizons finally reaching Pluto in a few months, and the Kepler Space Telescope giving results from it’s new observing run.  Not to mention comet Lovejoy, Mars Rover anniversary, and the Venus Metal Frost story. Normally I would pass on so much planetary news, even though it is one of my favourite areas of Astronomy.  This story, however, is just too good to pass up. Kepler 444, a very ancient star 117 light years from Earth, about 25% smaller than...

Three New Earth Sized Planets Found Orbiting Distant Star

As the Kepler Space Telescope continues work on its second mission, the slow trickle of new exoplanet discoveries has begun.  In the past few weeks scientists working with Kepler data have been able to identify new planets, and of course the variation continues to surprise us all. Most Recently, Kepler discovered a system of three planets orbiting the nearby red dwarf star EPIC 201367065, which is about half the size and mass of the Sun.  The planets are all super-Earths, being only 2.1, 1.7, and 1.5 times the size of Earth and receiving 10.5, 3.2 and 1.4 times the light intensity of Earth...