Starlight Musings

An attempt to learn the night sky in the early 21st century

Kepler Makes Discoveries Inside the Habitable Zone

NASA press conference on discovering new exoplanets inside the habitable zone.

Kepler 62 and Exoplanets in Habitable Zones

Tony Darnell hosts a Google Hangout with Sara Seager concerning Kepler 62 and exoplanets in habitable zones.

Spotlight Live: TESS & the Search for Exoplanets

Q&A about exoplanets and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) project in an interview with George Ricker, Sara Seager and Joshua Winn.

Exoplanets in Northern Constellations

HD 176051 b

The hunt for exoplanets reaped its first award in 1995 with the discovery of 51 Pegasi b, a prototype of a class of planets called hot jupiters, approximately 50 light years away in the constellation of Pegasus. Since then, an overwhelming 861 planets have been identified as of March 22, 2013. Personally, I do not find myself learning by rote all the planetary names, distances and physical characteristics. That would just be silly, and the current names aren’t all that memorable (take the catchy-sounding WD 0806-661B b for example). What I do find memorable, however, are the positions of known exoplanets in northern constellations.

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NASA Clean Air Study

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In 2012 I started purchasing certain plants with beautiful green foliage. I was inspired to do so by the NASA Clean Air Study which was conducted in the 1980s. The study suggests that certain common indoor plants may provide a natural way of removing certain toxic agents from the air. Supposedly, the plants thus help combat Sick Building Syndrome. There is also some evidence to suggest that patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers have significantly shorter hospitalizations.

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Northern Lights in Trondheim

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CUDA Fermi for SETI@home

Ever heard of SETI? The abbreviation stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The SETI Institute is currently one of the few not-for-profit organizations that is undertaking a serious scientific search for extraterrestrial civilizations in the cosmic haystack. Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) California nonprofit organization in 1984, key individuals in the history of the institute has included Carl Sagan, Bernard Oliver, David Packard, William Hewlett, Gordon Moore, Paul Allen, Nathan Myhrvold, Lewis Platt, and Greg Papadopoulos. Originally funded by the United States government until 1995, the institute has since then primarily been funded by private sources.

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Learning the Milky Way

The year is 2013. I’m in my fourth year studying history at the Norwegian University of Technology and Science. Yesterday, for the first time, I observed a comet, namely Pan-STARRS. Today, I’m writing the first post for a new blog that will focus on my attempt to learn about the stars and life in the universe. I enjoy writing and cataloging my experiences, and I’ve previously maintained blogs about foreign languages and history. But writing about astronomy will be a first. Let’s hope I keep it up!