Perhaps in the next step to warm up the public to the idea of Earth's wobble - this today: (6 Feb 2014)
Planets normally stick to a regular pattern, but not Kepler-413b.
Its erratic progress in the Cygnus solar system, 2,300 light years away, has astonished experts at the American space agency.
Not only does the planet bob up and down as it makes an irregular orbit of two orange and red dwarf stars, but it spins on its own axis, rather like a child’s spinning top.
“Everything wobbles a little bit,” said a spokesman for the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
“But this is much much faster. If our skies kept on wobbling like this it would make a real mess of our star signs and astrology.”
The planet was discovered by the Kepler telescope which watches how stars are dimmed as something passes in front of them.
Normally planets behave like clockwork, transiting in front of the star and blocking the light.
But Kepler 413-b behaves rather differently.
"Looking at the Kepler data over the course of 1,500 days, we saw three transits in the first 180 days – one transit every 66 days,” said Veselin Kostov, the principal investigator on the observation.
“Then we had 800 days with no transits at all. After that, we saw five more transits in a row."
Whether this is a one-off is a matter of conjecture although scientists believe there could be others behaving in the same way that have yet to be discovered.
There is interest in another couple of Kepler planets, but neither has behaved as dramatically as 413-b.
"This is the first really wobbly planet to be found. There are a couple of others which wobble a bit, but much more slowly," said Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian centre for astrophysics.
"The thought is though that they might be rather common, and we've been missing them in our searches, but now we
know they exist we'll think of better ways to find them."
Kepler 413-b's tilt can be as much as 30 degrees and this has also led to a rather unpredictable climate.
“Imagine living on aplanet with seasons so erratic you would hardly know whether to wear Bermuda shorts or a heavy overcoat,” said a Nasa spokesman.
In fact, because it orbits so close to its stars, Kepler is too hot for liquids to exist.
“Imagine living on a planet with seasons so erratic you would hardly know whether to wear Bermuda shorts or a heavy overcoat,” said a Nasa spokesman.
Methinks we have been living that.
I wonder. They are so linear, but also don't align with what I am used to seeing as lens flares. Here are some good pics of other strings of pearls: http://www.zetatalk.com/newsletr/issue346.htm
It doesn't look like any lens flare to me. Per the quote for the picture on the site it was taken on 11/22/09. That's just over 4 year ago.
So NASA, are you planning some kind of web cam type thing from the space station that would be available to the public after the announcement?
Yup the angles do not seem to align with typical lens flare angles. Plus given the recent surprise announcement from NASA about an asteroid close-pass we could be seeing more and more preludes to the announcement.