NASA announces spectacular exoplanet system

Trappist-1, a remarkable exoplanet system
Trappist-1, a remarkable exoplanet system

In a previous post, I discussed Pluto and the existence of planets in orbit around other stars (exoplanets). Since then, NASA has announced and held a press conference on Wednesday announcing further discoveries in this field. In the conference, NASA provided details of an exoplanet system located around a relatively close star. The star, Trappist-1 is an ultra cool red dwarf, much smaller than our Sun and located 39 light years from Earth. The star plays host to a remarkable planetary system.

Read moreNASA announces spectacular exoplanet system

Tonight’s penumbral lunar eclipse

Penumbral lunar eclipse
Keep an eye out for dimming on one side of the Moon

The moon shines by acting like a mirror and reflecting the light from the sun towards earth. As the moon orbits the earth, sometimes the moon will pass into the shadow of the earth cast by the sun, as the sun earth and moon line up in space. When this happens, observers on earth experience a dimming of the moon. This is a lunar eclipse. There are three different types of lunar eclipses. A total lunar eclipse, a partial lunar eclipse and a penumbral lunar eclipse.

Read moreTonight’s penumbral lunar eclipse

The Christmas star?

Ross Castle Conjunction
A conjunction of Venus, the Moon and Jupiter

With the long winter nights, Christmas in the air and children bringing home stories of the star of Bethlehem, people are more inclined to stop and take notice of the sky. The winter night sky is full of bright stars and the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, is to be found in the east late these evenings, rising earlier and earlier as the winter progresses.

Read moreThe Christmas star?

Is there anybody out there?

The Arecibo Radio Telescope. One of our tools in the search for extra terrestrial life.
The Arecibo Radio Telescope. One of our tools in the search for extra terrestrial life.

At the start of the 20th century an Italian by the name of Marconi began experimenting with wireless telegraphy. Soon after, wireless telephony and radio broadcasting were developed. Since those early days, humans have been pumping out radio, television and communications signals from our planet in an ever increasing quantity and strength.

Like a wave that travels outward when a stone is thrown into water, radio and TV signals travel by electromagnetic wave at the speed of light in an ever expanding sphere away from the earth. Theoretically, anyone with a powerful enough receiver on another planet would be able to eavesdrop on us. So how likely is this, and if they are listening, are they coming to visit?

Read moreIs there anybody out there?