A Search for Habitable Planets (And Shooting Stars)

Every year at about this time I find myself looking up to the evening sky more often. In addition to the recent full moon, I’ve noticed a lot more news coming out of NASA about stars and planets. Forgive my jaunt away from law to see what is happening in this other field.

Today out of NASA’s Kepler Mission comes news of the discovery of possibly 700 more planets, 140 of which may be bodies similar to Earth. Kepler is a telescope that, unlike the Hubble telescope, is not meant for taking images of specific astronomical objects. Instead, it monitors a wider portion of space at one time, detecting minute changes in light intensity. So, if a planet is passing in front of a star, Kepler can detect it from a great distance. The video below gives more overview of the Kepler Mission:

For those of you lucky to be camping or in cottage country and away from the city lights, don’t forget the annual meteor shower the Perseids. They start about now and run over the next month, and are at their peak at about August 12th. There should be little moon that night, so if the skies are clear you should hopefully be able to see 50 to 80 shooting stars per hour.

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