February 27, 2008

Exoplanetology and The Encyclopedia of Life

Exoplanetology and The Encyclopedia of LifeLife is what we make it, they say, so they made an Encyclopedia of it! The Encyclopedia of Life (eol.org) was launched today.
It's inspiring, and yet saddening at the same time. It mentioned that some species might never make it there because of mass extinction, a result of the destruction to Mother Earth.
Also, in connection to Exoplanetology.com and this blog which I launched just a few days earlier, it gives me a "de-energizing" feeling whenever I am reminded of the thought:
"We haven't even fully catalogued all life on our own Planet, so why would we want to look for life on alien worlds ?"
Just by thinking of the variety of life on Earth, i already feel overwhelmed. Double that by the magnitude of the endeavor to find new exoplanets and life in them.
But despite it all, the Encyclopedia of Life still inspires me more.
It is a great start! Look, they named it as Encyclopedia of Life, hence it does not exclude life on other planets or exoplanets! So i am imagining the day when a new category will appear on its pages: Exoplanetary Life - Flora and Fauna from other Worlds!
It's a vision worth pursuing, therefore, onwards we must go with the science of exoplanets! Go exoplanetology!

Source: EOL.org goes online
Link: Encyclopedia of Life (eol.org)

February 25, 2008

Forecast: A Deluge of Exoplanets To Be Discovered in 2008

This is the Golden Age of Exoplanetology and Planetary Science. For this year, we might see at least more than 60 new Exoplanets yet to be discovered before the end of 2008. The chart shows the number of exoplanets discovered each year.
With Planet-hunters getting better and better at their craft of planet-detection, armed with better telescopes at higher and higher resolutions, and more powerful data-crunching computers, there's no reason why the planet-hunters would score lower than last year's 60 exoplanet discoveries. As of writing, we currently have 3, but as more and more amateur astronomers are jumping in on the hunt, we will see an explosion of new extrasolar planets to be added in the Exoplanet Catalog, and more planet-hunters to be added in history!
The big fish is a small rocky earth-like exoplanet somewhere in the habitable zone. I am hopeful that at least one of them will be snagged this year.
So what are you waiting for?! Let's join the hunt!

Data Source: http://exoplanet.eu
Chart Engine: Google Chart API

February 23, 2008

Online Telescopes for Astronomers (and Planet-Hunters, maybe)

The latest issue of Wired Magazine (March 2008, page 060) featured 4 online telescopes for the "urban astro-nerds". Its been said that you can control these telescopes remotely from the web and order prints of your photos. That's very cool, but I have yet to find out if these robotic telescope observatories can effectively be used to hunt for exoplanets. If not, they're still great as an introductory tool for amateur astronomers and budding Exoplaneteers!
Here they are:

February 21, 2008

Carl Sagan's Legacy Stamped

Carl Sagan, author of my favorite book - Cosmos, just came up in the blogosphere today in the form of a stamp.
It appears that the Sagan Appreciation Society is planning a petition for the US Postal Service to issue a postage stamp honoring astronomer and science writer Carl Sagan.
A metaphorical thing indeed for someone who stamped a huge legacy in the minds and hearts of skygazers and space explorers.

February 19, 2008

On Exoplanets (downloadable cribsheet)

Here's a great cribsheet from Seed Magazine all about exoplanets and some popular methods of detecting them such as Radial Velocity, Gravitational Microlensing and Planetary Transit Technique. A thing or two about Habitable Zones is also featured.
Here's the link and the actual downloadable pdf and gif file.

February 15, 2008

The Living Cosmos: An Inspiration for Exoplanetology

If there is any book at all that magnified my enthusiasm for exoplanetology, then it is The Living Cosmos by Chris Impey. It's mostly on Astrobiology but the parallels to exoplanetology are unmistakable.
An exoplanetologist will learn most from the whole book, but Chapter 6, "Distant Worlds" is what i think is the most devoted to exoplanetology. It's where the planet-hunters are mentioned (such as Geoff Marcy, Debra Fischer and Greg Laughlin) as well as the current techniques used in planet-detection (such as Planetary Transit Method). Future initiatives such as NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) which will be launched in 2015 is mentioned as well.
The book is highly readable, and most of all truly inspiring.

New Discovery, New Beginning

Horrayy for exoplanetology.com's first blog post! I have been yearning to make the first post, but kept getting delayed. But this time, the enthusiasm cannot be stopped: With a new discovery comes a new beginning! The discovery of another solar system that is quite similar to ours, jumpstarts the exoplanetology.com blog!
Here is the link to the discovery from reuters.