Johannes Kepler - Geometrical Harmonies in the Perfect Solids, “Harmonices Mundi”, 1619.

Kepler was convinced “that the geometrical things have provided the Creator with the model for decorating the whole world”. In Harmony, he attempted to explain the proportions of the natural world - particularly the astronomical and astrological aspects - in terms of music. The central set of “harmonies” was the Musica Universalis or “Music of the Spheres”.

Kepler began by exploring regular polygons and regular solids, including the figures that would come to be known as Kepler’s solids.
Harmony resulted from the tones made by the souls of heavenly bodies - and in the case of astrology, the interaction between those tones and human souls. In the final portion of the work, Kepler dealt with planetary motions, especially relationships between orbital velocity and orbital distance from the Sun. Similar relationships had been used by other astronomers, but Kepler treated them much more precisely and attached new physical significance to them.
Is Proxima Centauri b the most promising exoplanet yet?
Our nearest neighbor could be nearly perfect for the search for life on other planets.

A pale red dot not far from our sun may be orbited by a pale blue dot much different than Earth.

In a shocking find, astronomers Wednesday announced their discovery of an Earth-sized planet orbiting the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, just 4.2 light-years away. This warm world, cataloged as Proxima b, sits smack in the middle of its habitable zone — the sweetest of sweet spots — where liquid surface water could exist.

But Proxima Centauri is not like our sun. It’s a cool, low-mass star known as a red dwarf. So the planet only qualifies as potentially habitable because it circles its sun in an orbit tighter than Mercury’s.

“The first hints of a possible planet were spotted back in 2013, but the detection was not convincing,” says Queen Mary University of London astronomer Guillem Anglada-Escudéf, who led the discovery team. “Since then we have worked hard to get further observations off the ground.”

Anglada-Escudéf’s group, called Pale Red Dot in homage to Carl Sagan, is an international team of several dozen astronomers who have collectively spent years searching for Earth’s nearest neighbor.

Incredibly, the planet’s ghostly signal was hidden in the data for decades. Pale Red Dot noticed a weak signal reoccurring every 11.2 days. They used this potential find to secure support from the European Southern Observatory, and then they set out on an unprecedented confirmation campaign.

For months earlier this year, they kept a near-constant vigil on Proxima Centauri using ESO’s 3.6-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. Their radial velocity technique, which detects tiny wobbles as the planet pulls on its star, provided the stunning confirmation.

An analysis of this new data, as well as a simultaneous analysis of decades-old observations, was revealed Wednesday in the journal Nature.

“You take the old data and the new data, and you combine everything together, and then the significance of the detection goes sky high — very, very significant,” says Anglada-Escudéf.

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♈️ ARIES // CoRoT-7b – This exoplanet orbits so closely to its sun that the rocky surface has become molten. The “hell planet” is believed to be covered in oceans of lava with temperatures around 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

♉️ TAURUS // J1407-B – This exoplanet is much, much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and orbits very young sun. It possess rings x200 the size of Saturn’s. The rings span so far out that they even overlap/eclipse its sun, and cause the planet to be extremely dim. It’s accumulated several “moons” as well.

♊️ GEMINI // Kepler-16b – This exoplanet is very unique, being half gas and half ice. Most importantly, it is the first known “circumbinary planet” – a planet that orbits not one, but two suns.

♋️ CANCER // Gliese 581 c – This exoplanet orbits a red dwarf star, so it’s sky is crimson. It is very similar to Earth, but it’s tidally locked; meaning one side is always facing the sun while the other is in constant darkness, you’d immediately burn or freeze to death. But the vertical strip of surface directly between had been theorized to sustain life and hold water.

♌️ LEO // 55 Cancri e – This exoplanet is a super hot, super-Earth. When first discovered, this planet was believed to be made mostly of diamond, due to the high carbon-to-oxygen ratio of its sun and its own atmospheric pressure and temperature.

♍️ VIRGO // HD 189733 b – This exoplanet is a huge, gas planet. Astronomers have said that is looks like a big, blue marble, and have theorized that the blue color is likely due to the fact that it is constantly raining shards of molten glass.

♎️ LIBRA // GJ 504 b – This exoplanet is a bigger than Jupiter, yet has the lowest mass of any discovered so far. It is a world that is still glowing from the heat of its formation in a way that makes it dark cherry blossom or magenta color, giving it the nickname “the pink planet”.

♏️ SCORPIO // TrES 2b – This exoplanet is extremely hot, and darker than the blackest coal; reflecting less than 1% of any and all light that falls on it. It is the darkest planet ever discovered and the exact reason is still a mystery to scientists.

♐️ SAGITTARIUS // WASP-17b – This exoplanet is the second largest discovered so far, yet it weighs in at half the mass of Jupiter. This makes it the “puffiest planet”. It is also the only known planet known to always orbit in retrograde (opposite its host star), and it’s discovery challenged the traditional planetary formation theory.

♑️ CAPRICORN // Gliese 436b – This exoplanets immense gravity is strong enough to compress the trace amounts of water vapor in its atmosphere, so its core is made of ice. However, it’s so close to the sun that the exterior is perpetually on fire. It stays frozen from its own gravitational pressure (and spite).

♒️ AQUARIUS // HD 188753 Ab – This exoplanet is located within a tristar-system; a solar system that has three suns. If you were standing on this planet, you would cast 3 shadows, and be able to see witness a marvelous, psychedelic triple sunset.

♓️ PISCES // GJ 1214 b – This exoplanet is also known as “the water world”. The interior/core is comprised primarily of water, surrounded by more water, then covered by a thick layer of gases. Estimated proportions of the total mass are 25% rock and 75% water.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2016 August 25 

Closest Star has Potentially Habitable Planet 

The star closest to the Sun has a planet similar to the Earth. Recent observations confirmed that this planet not only exists but inhabits a zone where its surface temperature could allow liquid water, a key ingredient for life on Earth. It is not yet known if this planet, Proxima b, has any life. Even if not, its potential ability to sustain liquid water might make it a good first hop for humanity’s future trips out into the Milky Way Galaxy.

Although the planet’s parent star, Proxima Centauri, is cooler and redder than our Sun, one of the other two stars in the Alpha Centauri star system is very similar to our Sun. The featured image shows the sky location of Proxima Centauri in southern skies behind the telescope that made many of the discovery observations: ESO’s 3.6-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile.

The discovered planet orbits close in – so close one year there takes only 11 days on Earth. The planet was discovered by the ESO’s Pale Red Dot collaboration. Although seemingly unlikely, if Proxima b does have intelligent life, at 4.25 light years distance it is close enough to Earth for two-way communication.

Scientists are unravelling the mysteries of Proxima b

Scientists have announced the discovery of the closest Earth-sized exoplanet ever found. There’s a lot of reasons to get excited about this new planet called Proxima b. It’s orbiting around a star called Proxima Centauri just four light-years away from Earth, making Proxima b our next-door neighbor. Scientists are now figuring out the details about the exoplanet — including what composes its atmosphere.

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IMG_0439 by Darren Baskill
Via Flickr:
The Milky-way over Hale Pohaku, Mauna Kea, on the Big Island of Hawai'i. The red glow on the horizon is from one of the lava flows. These are stills taken from this time lapse movie.