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Space Science

The Venus Transit and Hunting For Alien Worlds 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the pretty-pictures-and-awesome-science dept.
astroengine writes "Forget simply detecting a slight 'dip' in brightness as an exoplanet transits in front of its star; soon we'll be able to image the event. What's more, by doing this we'll see that exoplanetary transits look exactly like the historic Venus transit that wowed the world on Tuesday. This is according to astronomer Gerard van Belle, of Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Ariz., who hopes to use an interferometer to carry out the mind-blowing goal of capturing the silhouettes of exoplanets drifting in front of distant stars. But that's not all: this whole effort may help us track down the first bona fide Earth-like alien world." In case you missed it, NASA posted a bunch of great footage and pictures of the Venus transit, as did Boston.com's The Big Picture. Phil Plait pointed out a cool shot from Thierry Legault of a transit during a transit.
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The Venus Transit and Hunting For Alien Worlds

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  • Resolution (Score:4, Informative)

    by hackertourist (2202674) <hackertourist&xmsnet,nl> on Saturday June 09, 2012 @02:36PM (#40269859)

    From TFA:

    We're not just trying to take pictures of stars and see them as disks -- which is something we can do

    That was new to me, so I did some digging. The Hubble was the first telescope to do this, in 1996 [hubblesite.org]. It's quite incredible that we can now do this.

    Annoyingly, searching Google for 'image disk star' gives loads of false positives (protoplanetary disks).

  • Re:Note to submitter (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:52PM (#40270893)

    Not even mentioned in blurb or linked article was the handily relevant fact that Pluto was first seen at the same observatory, albeit a different telescope. How poor.
    Thankfully a 437 meter effective optical aperture is not a 13 year old's girly gossip. Keep practicing, Mr. astroengine.

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