Wednesday, November 7, 2007

New planet discovered!

I love astronomy. I have a telescope that I was only able to afford because I bought it before kids came along, and if I didn't spend every sleepless night tending to crying babies, I'd be out with the stars.

So now I have to depend on the Internet to give me my fix, and there is an announcement of a new planet discovered in the habitable zone orbiting the star 55 Cancri. I love it. People wonder if there is life out there; I wonder how much life is out there and will I live to encounter it. Really, of all of the stars in the entire universe, how can we think that we happen to have the only planet that boasts life?

I even go so far as to wonder why the search for life depends on water. Of course all life on earth is based on water, because water is plentiful here. But what about a planet where nitrogen was plentiful, or carbon, or something else we've never even heard of? Couldn't there be life that developed based on that structure?

Ok, so back to 55 Cancri and its new planet. Seems that the new planet is a gas giant similar to our Saturn, but it could have a rocky moon that has water and has life that we would recognize. That is an exciting thought.

Other great astronomy news this week includes the exploding comet that has brightened to become visible to the naked eye in the Norther hemisphere. Look towards the constellation Perseus for an object larger than Jupiter.

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