Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
Heavenly Aviaries - Bird Constellations
The night sky is full of starry birds. Here is a selection, ranging from the majestic swan to the exotic birds of the southern skies: the peacock, bird of paradise and toucan. There is also an emu whose image appears not in the stars, but in the dark nebulae.
This is my 100th newsletter since I started writing for BellaOnline.com, so here are some astronomical hundreds for you.
*100 billion planets*
PLANET is an international project which is observing the sky using gravitational microlensing in the search for extrasolar planets. As predicted by Einstein's Theory of General Relatively, sometimes massive objects curve the space around them like a lens. It means that the lens can show up smaller objects that can't be seen in the usual way. This Astronomy Picture of the Day shows such a picture and explains how it works. http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap060524.html
Based on their results, the PLANET astronomers have said that the Milky Way contains at least a 100 billion planets.
*100 Earth-like planets in our neighborhood*
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has discovered a number of super-Earths (rocky planets with a mass up to ten times that of Earth) from its survey of red dwarfs. They have been using the HARPS spectrograph on the La Silla Observatory telescope in Chile. They estimate that “there are probably about one hundred super-Earth planets in the habitable zones around stars in the neighbourhood of the Sun at distances less than about 30 light-years [ten parsecs].”
*100 years ago: beginnings of Big Bang theory*
In 1912 Lowell Observatory astronomer Vesto Slipher first discovered galactic redshift, although Edwin Hubble ended up with the credit. It was the galactic redshift that enabled the discovery that galaxies were receding from us.
*Top 100 images*
If you'd like to see lots of gorgeous astronomy pictures without a lot of searching, here is ESO's Top 100 images. http://www.eso.org/public/images/archive/top100/ Just scroll and enjoy!
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Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor