Ephemeris for Monday, March 6th. The Sun will rise at 7:10. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 6:37. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 3:47 tomorrow morning.
The big astronomical news of two weeks ago was the announcement of a star system that had at least 7 earth-sized planets. And that three of them were in the habitable zone of their dim red dwarf star. The designation of the star is TRAPPIST-1, a Belgian telescope in South America that has nothing to do with monks. TRAPPIST is the acronym for the telescope’s rather long name. Confirmation of all the planets, their sizes and mass was carried out by NASA’s Spitzer Infrared Telescope trailing the Earth in solar orbit. Needless to say this star system will be the object of intense study as larger and more sophisticated ground and space based telescopes come on line in the next few years.
Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.
Note that the surface features of these planets are in the eye of the illustrator. They are currently black shadows seen on the face of the star that they cross.
Planet g looks closest to the Earth’s density of the habitable zone planets. The problem I’d have is if I lived there at 12.35 days per year I’d be 2220 years old.
Entice your great-great-great-great grandkids with this travel poster:
For more information:
On the Spitzer site you can find:
Videos (b-roll and annotated/narrated)
Planet surface maps and starfield backdrop image
On the JPL site you can also find:
Exoplanet Travel Poster
VR tour of TRAPPIST-1d surface
On the ESO site you can also find:
Even more videos and graphics
Play around with the TRAPPIST-1 and other extra solar planetary systems with NASA’s Eyes: https://eyes.nasa.gov/eyes-on-exoplanets.htm.
Replay the news conference announcing the TRAPPIST-1 discovery from February 22, 2017: