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Privileged Planet Confirmed!

All of the evidence we have now is that we live on a rare planet that is specially designed for intelligent life.

Solar Eclipses: Design or Coincidence?

This is a rebuttal to Live Science's article, "Why Total Solar Eclipses Are Total Coincidences," so that readers can make up their own minds.

Moon's Stabilizing Influence Depends on Star Size

A connection between multiple factors was noted in a recent model of how a moon helps a planet remain habitable.

Cosmic Lottery: How Many Habitable Planets?

News media ran with a suggestion that one in five stars has a habitable planet, but they didn't read the fine print.

A Brain Wouldn't Survive Star Travel

Don't take a star trek unless you want to arrive demented.

Venus Transit Recalls Adventures of Yore

Today's transit of Venus, in which our sister planet appears to cross the disk of the sun, will be the last till 2117. As observatories and millions of people watch the rare planetary alignment, few may know the stories of astronomers who predicted them and explorers who risked life and limb to observe them.

Observations Upset Models of Stellar Evolution

Stellar evolution models go back decades. Ever since the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram came out in 1910 (graphing temperature against luminosity), showing most stars fell on a line called the “main sequence”, astrophysicists have sought to understand the life cycle of stars from birth to death. In general, the story goes, collapsing clouds of gas and dust produce main-sequence stars that burn nuclear fuel till they run out. Depending on their masses, they end up as supernovae, red giants or slowly-cooling cinders. While red dwarfs cool down slowly into the darkness, supernovae and red giants eject mass outward into space . Two new planets found close to a red giant are among new headaches for theorists.

It’s Still a Rare Earth

Now that hundreds of extrasolar planets are known, how do they compare to ours? The Kepler spacecraft has found a varied assortment of all sizes and distances away from their parent stars. Only a few reside in their star’s habitable zones. But that’s only the first of many requirements for life. Two recent studies indicate that Earth remains a rare bird in the celestial aviary.
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