Friday, July 24, 2015

Stargazing for Andromeda


Considered as one of the top three destinations of the world for stargazing, a journey to Namibia will definitely leave you speechless. It offers cloudless night skies during the dry winter months, minimal air pollution and therefore excellent views with superb stargazing conditions of the southern constellations such as the Orion’s Belt, Jewel Box Cluster, Omega Centauri, The Southern Cross etc.
Overwhelmed to be surrounded by the countless glittering stars, historical civilizations have always been very interested in skies and have given a lot of importance to the observation of the stars.
Even nowadays, some of the elderly hunters who live in the most remote villages in Africa, still rely on the position of the sun to give them a sense of time. From these, they observe the shadows cast by the sun and still count the days by the phases of the moon. They pay particular attention to the Milky Way to which they refer as the Spine of the Night, and observe three different positions during the course of the night. It tells them about the time and the changing seasons.
At the moment one can also observe GLIESE 581d.  A red dwarf star, which is around 20.5 light years from Earth in the Libra constellation. It is arising much interest as signs suggest that this could be very similar to Earth, and therefore it may be habitable.
Since the beginning of his mission, Kepler has already identified 1,700 planets by reading the incoming light from stars that are at the heart of the systems. For most of the cases, the planets discovered were orbiting at a distance too close or too far to the respective stars to be considered habitable, but for 13 of them, including Gliese 581d, the distance is almost optimal, hoping that there is abundant presence of water and hydrogen in the atmosphere.
Astronomers have looked for more details for Gliese 581d, they found out that the surface is provided with rocks of various orographic profile. They also concluded that the circumference of the planet is twice as large as that of our own, and that its mass is seven times more dense, so as to protect billions of years to its atmosphere. There are elements that suggest the existence of oceans, clouds and rain, in other words, the real possibility of life.

Could it be that Gliese 581d will be the future of humanity?

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