Thursday, May 26, 2011

First habitable planet?

Continuing in an astronomical theme - for the first time a planet has been identified (apart from Earth) which might well be habitable by known forms of life. According to a BBC article:

"This discovery is important because it's the first time climate modellers have proved that the planet is potentially habitable, and all observers agree that the exoplanet exists," he told news agency PA.

"The Gliese system is particularly exciting to us as it's very close to Earth, relatively speaking. So with future generations of telescopes, we'll be able to search for life on Gliese 581d directly."

And another interesting development of the detection of planets wandering between the stars. They were found by Japanese researchers says a BBC report:

They detected evidence of 10 Jupiter-sized objects with no parent star found within 10 Astronomical Units (AU). One AU is equivalent to the distance between our Earth and Sun. Further analysis led them to the conclusion that most of these objects did not have parent stars.

Competition for Pluto

Traditionally our schools have taught that Pluto was one of the planets of our solar system. Of course recently Pluto was reclassified and is no longer called a planet but a minor planet.
Just to give some background here is a chart of the largest objects now known in our system beyond Neptune.
We can see that Pluto is not the largest and many others are nearly as big.
In addition it is likely that even larger bodies (minor planets) will be found further out as we now know there are great numbers of objects out there in the darkness beyond Pluto.
Thanks to The Planetary Society for the picture.
I hope primary school teachers will take note of this!

ITCZ in May

It looks like the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) has now moved back north far enough to start our wet season here on the coast of Guyana. The rains have been falling for some time in the south of Guyana.

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