WBEZ | Adler Planetarium http://www.wbez.org/tags/adler-planetarium Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Perseid Meteor Shower will hit its peak tonight http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-12/perseid-meteor-shower-will-hit-its-peak-tonight-112630 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/meteor shower FlickrIslam Hassan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>You&rsquo;ve got a chance to catch some of the best shooting stars in years tonight when the annual Perseid Meteor Shower hits its peak. The skies will be clear over much of the U.S. including right here in Chicagoland. Here to explain what you&rsquo;ll be able to see and the best places to see it is Larry Ciupik, senior astronomer at the Adler Planetarium.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 11:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-12/perseid-meteor-shower-will-hit-its-peak-tonight-112630 Star light? Too Bright! http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/star-light-too-bright-112452 <p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s celestial landscape is bright and beautiful, but it&rsquo;s virtually invisible because it&rsquo;s obscured behind the orange glow that emerges from the city&rsquo;s streetlights and buildings each night. This obscured sky has hundreds of thousands of stars, dotted with bright travelling planets, crisscrossed by satellites and burning meteors. To see that sky, you need a dark sky, and in Chicago &mdash; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/art-and-science-behind-glow-chicagos-skyline-111928" target="_blank">a city of stage-lit skyscrapers, sprawl and sodium streetlights</a> &mdash; it just doesn&rsquo;t get dark enough to see more than a handful of the brightest stars and planets.</p><p>According to Larry Ciupik, an astronomer at <a href="http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/" target="_blank">Adler Planetarium</a>, Chicago is one of the most light-polluted cities in the world. One of the many potential consequences of that is clear, he says:</p><p>As the night sky fills up with more artificial light from increasing development and glare from unshielded streetlights, more people are forgetting what darkness even looks like. Or, worse, they never experience it at all.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we gradually become used to not seeing the sky,&rdquo; Ciupik says. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s a whole kind of primal feeling when you see a very dark sky. A black sky with thousands of stars &hellip; you can&rsquo;t duplicate [that] even inside of a planetarium. Artificial doesn&rsquo;t compare to reality.&rdquo;</p><p>That reality hit our questioner, Paula de los Angeles, between the eyes when she moved to Chicago a few years ago. Having grown up in a small town in Connecticut, she missed seeing the stars when she looked up at Chicago&rsquo;s night sky. And she asked for help finding them:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What are the best spots in Chicago or the suburbs to stargaze?</em></p><p>To Paula, moving to Chicago not only meant she had to give up seeing stars, but also the feeling that goes along with it: She misses the part of herself that had been filled with wonder just by looking up at night.</p><p>&ldquo;You kind of have to pick when you&rsquo;re in Chicago what kind of experience you want,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s too bad we can&rsquo;t see the night sky and also be around technology and a lot of lights, too.&rdquo;</p><p>We asked astronomers and stargazers to tell us where Chicago&rsquo;s good stargazing spots are. They all told us the same thing: nowhere. Not in the city or in Chicago&rsquo;s near suburbs. But, some spots are better than others, and you&rsquo;re better off getting as far from the city as possible. Adler astronomers and members of the <a href="http://www.gadboisproductions.com/cas/" target="_blank">Chicago Astronomical Society</a> promised visiting a few of their favorites is worth your time. (Assuming there are no clouds, of course!) We&rsquo;ve listed their suggestions below, from least-worst to OK. Consider the list your invitation to catch a bustling display of stars, constellations, meteors, and galaxies you&rsquo;re denied each evening!</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://blue-marble.de/nightlights/2012" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicagoglow1_0.png" style="height: 336px; width: 620px;" title="Night-lights imagery by NASA's Earth Observatory shows Chicago's light pollution at night. Click to explore the map." /></a></div><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Before you leave</span></p><p>Bad timing can break a stargazing trip, so plan for both cloudless, moonless nights. Consult <a href="http://cleardarksky.com/c/Chicagokey.html" target="_blank">this handy clear skies chart</a> for 3-day forecasts. Bring plenty of warm layers, a seat cushion or foam mat, water and snacks. Also, consider loading your phone with a neat stargazing app. (Options: Google Play store: <a href="http://wbez.is/1LrJcvo" target="_blank">http://wbez.is/1LrJcvo</a>)</p><p>*Note: Our recommended stargazing spots fall on the <a href="https://grok.lsu.edu/Article.aspx?articleId=12612" target="_blank">Bortle Scale, which measures a sky&rsquo;s darkness and light pollution</a>. In this scale, a 1 is the darkest theoretical sky, and a 10 would render stars invisible.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">In the city</span></p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Northerly Island</p><p><strong>Why:</strong> It&rsquo;s slightly east of the Loop, and that slightly cuts down the light pollution.</p><p><strong>How:</strong> Point your eyes or telescope east over Lake Michigan. The sky will be a tad darker than it would if you were facing the glow of downtown.</p><p><strong>Bortle Scale:</strong> 8-9</p><p>Other suggestions: Adler Planetarium staff and other volunteers organize stargazing meetups through their &nbsp;<a href="http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/scopes-in-the-city" target="_blank">&lsquo;Scopes in the City program</a>, where you can gaze at Chicago&rsquo;s night sky through telescopes in various places around the city. For indoor stargazing, <a href="http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/news/527t2u2qou5sp2br97mksvkjoddr1y" target="_blank">Adler&rsquo;s Doane observatory</a> has the largest telescope in Chicago. (It&rsquo;s becoming more accessible to the public<a href="http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/news/527t2u2qou5sp2br97mksvkjoddr1y" target="_blank"> as renovations are completed</a>.) The University of Chicago&rsquo;s<a href="http://astro.uchicago.edu/RAS/" target="_blank"> Ryerson Observatory</a> is another option, but call in advance.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The suburbs</span></p><p><strong>Where:</strong> <a href="http://www.openlands.org/openlands-lakeshore-preserve" target="_blank">Openlands Lakeshore Preserve</a>, Highland Park</p><p><strong>Why:</strong> It has few lights! This 77-acre nature preserve lies along the Lake Michigan shoreline, 25 miles north of Chicago. It officially closes at sunset, but the Chicago Astronomical Society sometimes gains permission to host stargazing meetups there.</p><p><strong>Bortle Scale:</strong> 6-7</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: The <a href="http://fpdcc.com/nature-centers/little-red-schoolhouse-nature-center/" target="_blank">Little Red School House</a>, Willow Springs</p><p><strong>Bortle Scale: </strong>6-7</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> <a href="http://www.cantigny.org/" target="_blank">Cantigny Park</a>, Wheaton</p><p><strong>Bortle Scale:</strong> 7</p><p>Other options: For indoor stargazing, Northwestern University&rsquo;s<a href="http://ciera.northwestern.edu/observatory.php" target="_blank"> Dearborn Observatory</a> is open to the public on Fridays.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://djlorenz.github.io/astronomy/lp2006/overlay/dark.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lightpollutionmap_0.PNG" style="height: 359px; width: 620px;" title="Light pollution in the Great Lakes region. Note Chicago's whitewash of light for about 50 miles. Click the map to explore in detail. (Source: P. Cinzano, F. Falchi, University of Padova. C. D. Elvidge, NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder. Copyright Royal Astronomical Society. Reproduced from the Monthly Notices of the RAS by permission of Blackwell Science.)" /></a></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Beyond the suburbs</span></p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Indiana Dunes State Park</p><p><strong>Why:</strong> This park promises some of the metro region&rsquo;s darkest skies; its 21,000 &nbsp;acres of wetlands and dunes are mostly unlit, and the darkness of Lake Michigan lies just north. It&rsquo;s within an hour&rsquo;s drive of Chicago and is accessible by <a href="http://www.nictd.com/" target="_blank">public transportation</a>, too, though a commuter train trip can take twice as long as a car ride. Under the right conditions, many stars are visible and you can clearly see the hazy patch of the Milky Way above the horizon.</p><p><strong>How:</strong> The park is open until 11 p.m. To stay later, consider camping, which is possible year round. The park holds <a href="http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/files/sp-Dunes_SpecialEvents.pdf" target="_blank">special stargazing events</a>, some of which involve sleep-overs on the beach.</p><p><strong>Bortle Scale: </strong>4-5</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> <a href="http://www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r2/silversp.htm" target="_blank">Silver Springs State Park</a>, Yorkville (about 90 minutes southwest of Chicago)</p><p><strong>Bortle Scale:</strong> 5</p><p><strong>Where: </strong><a href="http://www.mccdistrict.org/rccms/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Coral-Woods-Site-Map-2014.pdf" target="_blank">Coral Woods Conservation Area</a>, Marengo (about 90 minutes northwest of Chicago),</p><p><strong>Bortle Scale:</strong> 4.5-5</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Lake Michigan!</span></p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Ferries start from Milwaukee or Manitowoc, Wisconsin. From Milwaukee, catch a night ride with the <a href="http://www.lake-express.com/" target="_blank">Lake Express</a> that cuts right across Lake Michigan to Muskegon. <a href="http://www.ssbadger.com/" target="_blank">The S.S. Badger</a> departs from Manitowoc.</p><p><strong>Why: </strong>The trips can take approximately 3 &frac12; hours. About halfway through, you&rsquo;ll see the best stargazing in the area! The Milky Way is bright enough to cast shadows onto lighter objects. Some stars appear red or yellow, others blue, while others are white.</p><p><strong>How:</strong> Head to the top deck about 90 minutes into the voyage. The ferries move quickly, so be warned that the pinnacle of darkness doesn&rsquo;t last long. Bring layers because it gets windy!</p><p><strong>Bortle Scale: </strong>2-3.</p><p><em><strong>Can we suggest a sailboat?</strong></em></p><p><em>If you have a boat (or have a friend with one), you&rsquo;ll be surprised to find how many stars you can see even just 10 miles due east of the city and northern suburbs. While looking back at the view of Chicago&rsquo;s skyline could be tempting, give yourself about 15-20 minutes to gaze out into the darkness to adjust your eyes, too. Here&rsquo;s a look at our own trip, and be sure to listen to our audio story which takes place on board!</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="560" id="iframe" scrolling="no" src="//flickrit.com/slideshowholder.php?height=550&amp;width=620&amp;size=medium&amp;speed=stop&amp;setId=72157656147604916&amp;caption=on&amp;credit=2&amp;theme=1&amp;thumbnails=0&amp;transition=0&amp;layoutType=fixed&amp;sort=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em><a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">Logan Jaffe</a> is Curious City&#39;s multimedia producer and Jesse Dukes is Curious City&#39;s audio producer.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 16:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/star-light-too-bright-112452 Nerds take Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/nerds-take-chicago-108708 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Geek bar chicago.jpg" style="height: 287px; width: 600px; " title="Geek Bar Chicago's COO Matt Wolff, left, with CEO and president David Zoltan. (Kickstarter)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Being a hardcore nerd as a child and awkward teen is usually not the most enjoyable of experiences. In fact, getting lost in fantasy worlds and committing oneself fully to passions that others might not understand (or worse, mock) can often feel very frustrating and even acutely lonely at times.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">As a former child-geek who cried when I didn&#39;t get my Hogwarts letter, I would know.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Thankfully, being an adult nerd is <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/04/30/star_treks_wil_wheaton_tells_newborn_girl_why_being_a_nerd_is_awesome/" target="_blank">awesome</a>. Not only do nerds grow up to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWXdZ9oYT5k" target="_blank">rule the world</a>,&nbsp;but also&mdash;much like a fine wine or Patrick Stewart&mdash; letting one&#39;s freak flag fly only gets better with age.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">I&#39;ve written about nerd culture before, from finding&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/geek-love-new-normal-105118" target="_blank">geek love</a>&nbsp;to navigating the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-04/c2e2-and-hierarchy-nerd-culture-106772" target="_blank">hierachy of nerdom</a>; but this time, I wanted to share some of my favorite resources for nerdery in Chicago and beyond:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><strong>Chicago Nerd Social Club</strong></p><p>Who gets to be a nerd, geek, dork, etc.? <a href="http://www.chicagonerds.com" target="_blank">The Chicago Nerd Social Club</a>&nbsp;believes it&#39;s anyone who wants to be, regardless of gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, political affiliation or fluency in Klingon. The newbie-friendly group hosts tons of monthly events and meetups throughout Chicago, from comic book trivia nights and local museum visits&nbsp;to science fiction and fantasy book clubs. Follow CNSC on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/chicagonerds" target="_blank">@chicagonerds</a> for updates and info on how to join in!</p><p><strong>Geek Bar</strong></p><p>After an <a href="http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cantinaforward/geek-out-geek-bar" target="_blank">astoundingly successful</a> Kickstarter campaign, Chicago&#39;s first Geek Bar is officially underway for a Spring 2014 opening. The brainchild of CEO and president David Zoltan combines all of the best aspects of nerd culture into one: innovative food and drinks (hello, Dragon Ribs and test tube cocktails!), an atmosphere of game-play and a mission to foster geek solidarity through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/geekbar" target="_blank">community support</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Sugar Gamers</strong></p><p>Chicago was recently named the site of a <a href="http://kotaku.com/chicago-home-of-a-new-indie-gaming-renaissance-1335671787" target="_blank">new indie gaming renaissance</a>, thanks in large part to the growing number of women who are giving traditionally misogynistic male gamers a run for their money. The Sugar Gamers are at the forefront of the female gamer movement, giving geeky women the platform to show the gaming industry that <a href="http://thegazette.com/2013/08/19/women-fight-back-on-video-game-misogyny/" target="_blank">they matter, too</a>.</p><p><strong>Nerdette Podcast</strong></p><p>Looking for a safe space to nerd out about all of the things you&#39;re watching, reading, listening to and encountering IRL? Don&#39;t worry,&nbsp;<a href="http://nerdettepodcast.com" target="_blank">Nerdette Podcast</a>&nbsp;has you covered. From nerdy summer camp stories and SEO wordplay to awesomely geeky interactions with guests like NPR&#39;s Audie Cornish, hosts Greta Johnsen and Tricia Bobeda cover the broad expanse of pop culture with one-of-a-kind chemistry, wit and enthusiasm. Follow the Nerdettes on Twitter @<a href="http://twitter.com/nerdettepodcast" target="_blank">nerdettepodcast</a>.</p><p><strong>Geek Girl Chicago</strong></p><p>Another nerd lady who deserves a shoutout is Lauren Rapciak, voice of the <a href="http://www.chicagonow.com/geek-girl-chicago/" target="_blank">Geek Girl Chicago</a>&nbsp;blog for ChicagoNow. Rapciak&#39;s delightful corner of the blogosphere&nbsp;is a treasure trove of GeekEnd updates, book and game reviews, musings on nerd life, and advice for events that range from cosplay burlesque shows to über geek conventions like DragonCon.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>The Nerdologues</strong></p><p>This Chicago-based sketch comedy group is on a mission to not only &quot;make nerds laugh,&quot; but also bring nerds together in comedic harmony. Each month, they host a &quot;nerdologue&quot; telling event called <a href="http://www.nerdologues.com" target="_blank">Your Stories</a>, in which Chicago nerds have the opportunity to share their most daring, hilarious and heartfelt tales. Other regularly-held events include introductory Dungeons and Dragons games, superhero-themed pub crawls and a sketch show every first Sunday of the month at the Public House Theater.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Galloping Ghost Arcade</strong></p><p>Chicago is home to many nerd-tastic arcades (Emporium Arcade Bar, Headquarters, Logan Hardware, etc.) but the most spectacular of all resides in Brookfield, Ill. <a href="http://www.gallopingghostarcade.com" target="_blank">Galloping Ghost</a> is the largest video arcade in the United States, with over 345+ games to play until 2 a.m. daily&mdash;no quarters or tokens required!&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Movie Trivia</strong></p><p>The film nerd is a very special breed; and as someone who campaigned for a Woody Allen class in college and has watched &quot;When Harry Met Sally&quot; about 36 times, I count myself among their ranks. Luckily, The Logan Theatre has one of the best <a href="http://www.thelogantheatre.com/index.php/component/content/article/component/shows/?id=98" target="_blank">movie trivia nights</a> in town for film buffs, especially those honing their prowess as walking IMDBs. Every Tuesday at 8 p.m., bring a group of five friends to the Logan lounge and show off your cinematic knowledge over beer, popcorn and geeky categories galore.</p><p><strong>Adler Planetarium</strong></p><p>If you geek out about physics and astronomy, look no further than the Adler for an impressive date night, friendship outing or nerd&#39;s day off to put Ferris Bueller&#39;s to shame.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.adlerplanetarium.org" target="_blank">America&#39;s first planetarium</a>&nbsp;has tons of exciting events coming up too, including a visit from NASA astronaut Jerry Ross during World Space Week!&nbsp;</p><p>Alright, lovely nerds of Chicago: what else would you add to this list?&nbsp;</p><p><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a>&nbsp;a podcast about the future of television. Follow Leah on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 20 Sep 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/nerds-take-chicago-108708 Apollo astronauts commemorate 40th anniversary of last moon mission in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/apollo-astronauts-commemorate-40th-anniversary-last-moon-mission-chicago-103829 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6655_P1050580-scr.JPG" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell and Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission, the last manned mission to the moon. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Tuesday, the Adler Planetarium commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission, the last manned mission to the moon. Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan were on hand to cast hand and boot prints for display at the Planetarium. Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell was also on hand for the festivities.</p><p>Eugene Cernan holds the distinction of being the last man to set foot on the moon. A Chicago native, he wondered what his father would think if he could have seen him now. He shared a piece of advice his father shared with him:<br /><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/n-iyFQIaYIA?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>With Congress facing the fiscal cliff, I asked the astronauts about the future of NASA funding. &quot;We&#39;re going to go back to the moon, we&#39;re going to go to Mars, but first we&#39;ve got to get our fiscal house in order,&quot; said Cernan.</p><p>Harrison Schmitt, the only scientist to ever go to the moon, called the space program a national security concern. &quot;The amount that NASA spends and would need to spend in order to have a vigorous and geopolitically relevant program is so small compared to other things going on, that it has to be looked at not as a budgetary issue but as a geopolitical issue,&quot; Schmitt says. He says long-term national security is not certain if we are not the dominant space-faring nation.</p></p> Tue, 13 Nov 2012 16:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/apollo-astronauts-commemorate-40th-anniversary-last-moon-mission-chicago-103829 Two new planets came to light this week, and one of them was crowd-sourced http://www.wbez.org/news/two-new-planets-came-light-week-and-one-them-was-crowd-sourced-103221 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6501_PH1%20rendering.Haven%20Giguere.Yale-scr.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px; " title="An artist's rendering of Planet Hunters 1, discovered by citizen astronomers. (Yale/Haven Giguere)" /></p><p>A project that crowd-sources astronomical research announced its first discovery Tuesday: a new planet called PH1, short for Planet Hunters.</p><p>Planet Hunters is a website co-sponsored by Chicago&rsquo;s Adler Planetarium that allows everyday people to analyze data about stars.</p><p>The citizen scientists&rsquo; discovery is not to be confused with another new planet announced this week: European researchers discovered the closest known planet to Earth in the Alpha Centauri solar system. But both discoveries are being hailed as valid and significant.</p><p>&ldquo;These (Planet Hunters) are real discoveries made by just regular members of the public, armchair astronomers if you like,&rdquo; said Arfon Smith, Director of Citizen Science at the Adler Planetarium.</p><p>The Planet Hunters site allows anyone to view data compiled from NASA&rsquo;s Kepler Spacecraft. But NASA is not a sponsor of the project; Planet Hunters is an independent collaboration using data the Kepler research team has made available to the public.</p><p>The Planet Hunters website was launched as an experiment, in part with the goal of finding out whether the human eye could sometimes be more efficient than a computer at analyzing data. Citizen planet seekers look for inconsistencies in light patterns created by distant stars. These inconsistencies, analyzed by the human eye in large numbers, can demonstrate that a previously unknown planet is passing between the Kepler telescope and the star in question.</p><p>The website keeps a list of &ldquo;candidates&rdquo; for planets, and among the candidates PH1 is the first winner. Two citizen scientists, Kian Jek and Robert Gagliano, headed up the effort to confirm the existence of PH1. After their research was reviewed by the team of scientists behind Planet Hunters, the whole group submitted a paper to the Astrophysical Journal and <a href="http://arxiv.org/pdf/1210.3612v1.pdf">made it available online</a> October 15.</p><p><strong>PH1: The Double Star Wars Planet</strong></p><p>PH1 is about 5,000 light years away from earth. It is notable because it is the first planet discovered in a four-sun solar system.</p><p>The planet itself orbits two stars, which doesn&rsquo;t distinguish it much from a series of binary star solar systems discovered by NASA in the last couple years. In these systems--sometimes called &ldquo;Tatooine&rdquo; systems after the two-star solar system featured in Star Wars--planets make one orbit around two suns, which also orbit each other. PH1 takes the Tatooine formation and doubles it; in the PH1 system there is a second pair of stars just an astronomical stone&rsquo;s-throw from PH1&rsquo;s pair.</p><p>Astronomers have never seen anything quite like it, and the discovery has implications for research into how planets are formed.</p><p>&ldquo;The model that scientists use to predict how planets form...would predict that this planet could not exist, and yet it does,&rdquo; said Smith. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s posing lots of new questions for the whole planet-formation science community.&rdquo;</p><p>Fred Ciesla, assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, agreed. Ciesla researches planet formation, and he said scientists are still trying to figure out models that account for the formation of planets in a two-star system. Finding a planet in a four-star system, he said, &ldquo;is an exciting discovery, and it means that we can&rsquo;t limit ourselves to just considering systems like our own sun.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Meanwhile, in Alpha Centauri...</strong></p><p>This week scientists announced another key planet discovery: the closest planetary neighbor we may ever find outside our own solar system. A group of researchers at the University of Geneva in Switzerland used data from a telescope in Chile to demonstrate the existence of a rocky planet the size of Earth in the solar system Alpha Centauri, just 4.4 light years away.</p><p>A few light years makes Alpha Centauri our next-door neighbor in astronomical terms, and the closest known exoplanet, or planet outside our own solar system. Still, it would take our speediest spacecraft tens of thousands of years to travel to the three-star system.</p><p>Alpha Centauri is a solar system with three suns that can be seen with the naked eye from night skies south of Tampa. The new planet orbits one of the suns, known as Alpha Centauri B, and it was detected by observing the effect of the planet&rsquo;s gravitational field on its surroundings over several years.</p><p>&ldquo;This is making us very happy,&rdquo; said Dan Joyce, the president of the Chicago Astronomical Society. He reminded us that the Alpha Centauri system was the implied setting of the sci-fi film Avatar. &ldquo;Maybe what they were doing with the movie Avatar was not all that wacky after all.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Exoplanet%20example.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Artist's impression of exoplanet Corot-7B, a hot planet that orbits close to its sun. (European Southern Observatory/L.Calcada) " /></p><p>Of course, the new planet would not make a good environment for humans, avatars, or any other life form. It orbits very close to its sun, and the surface temperature is around 1,200 degrees Celsius. But scientists often find that where there is one planet, there are more. In theory, another planet could be found in what is called the habitable zone, or the appropriate distance from a star to have a livable surface temperature.</p><p><strong>Extraterrestrial Implications</strong></p><p>Afron Smith said the pace of planet discovery has increased dramatically in recent years--and the discoveries have big implications for the search for life outside our solar system.</p><p>&ldquo;When I was ten, we didn&rsquo;t know of any planets going around any other stars apart from our own sun,&rdquo; he said. The first exoplanet was discovered in 1995.</p><p>Now, Smith said it&rsquo;s probable that a majority of stars in the universe have planetary systems. That&rsquo;s significant because the more planets researchers come across, the more likely it is that a planet somewhere out there resembles earth.</p><p>The discovery of exoplanets, Smith said, &ldquo;introduces questions about how many other civilizations there are in the universe. Are we particularly special as humans?&rdquo;</p><p>Was he talking about extraterrestrial life?</p><p>Yes, he was.</p><p>Planet-seeking is not only a crowd-sourced activity now. It&rsquo;s a key piece of the search for life beyond earth.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re interested in trying to work out how likely life is in the universe outside of our own solar system,&rdquo; Smith said, &ldquo;then this is a crucial factor.&rdquo;</p><p><em>To help search for new planets, go to www.planethunters.org.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Oct 2012 16:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/two-new-planets-came-light-week-and-one-them-was-crowd-sourced-103221 Clever Apes #25: Curveballs from space http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-01-31/clever-apes-25-curveballs-space-95995 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-31/three galaxies.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Clockwise and counterclockwise galaxies from the Hubble Telescope (NASA, ESA, M." class="caption" height="347" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-31/three galaxies.jpg" title="Clockwise and counterclockwise galaxies from the Hubble Telescope (NASA, ESA, M. Livio and the Hubble Heritage Team, STScI/AURA)" width="600"></p><p>Often in science, a new insight doesn’t fit in with the old patterns. That means something, of course, is wrong – either the fresh idea, or everything we thought we knew leading up to it. In the latest installment of Clever Apes, we consider two of these curveballs. One has already rewritten the solar system's history. The other seemed, for a while, like it might mean the universe is either left-handed, or shaped like a small doughnut.</p><p>For starters, many of us learned in school that the solar system formed by a <a href="http://nineplanets.org/origin.html">nice, orderly process</a>. Tiny things gently coalesced into bigger objects, settling into this pleasant little arrangement of planets and moons. But now, scientists think it was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nice_model">probably a bloodbath</a>, with would-be planets snuffed out in cataclysmic collisions. In some parts of the solar system, as much as 99.9 percent of the material that was once there has been completely ejected from the solar system.</p><p><a href="http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/researchcollections/researchers/#mh">Mark Hammergren</a>, Adler Planetarium astronomer and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/clever-apes-7-apes-space">Friend to the Apes</a>, is trying to recover that lost history. He’s searching for traces of planetesimals, a nearly extinct race of giant asteroids that were the seeds of our planets. Their story shows just how rough of a neighborhood the early solar system was. Jupiter, for example, probably lurched around like a bull in a china shop, its gravity knocking asteroids and planetoids into each other and, in many cases, out of orbit completely.</p><p>The fate of those ejected bodies leads to one of the most evocative consequences of this model of solar system formation: interstellar space could be thick with <a href="http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2072290,00.html">“rogue planets,”</a> whipping through the blackness. Some, says Hammergren, could even still be heated by their molten cores, leading to the speculative, but awesome, possibility that some could harbor life.</p><p>Second, the story of a curveball that threatened to topple some very basic ideas about space and time. Scientists, including the Adler’s <a href="http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/researchcollections/researchers/#chrislintott">Chris Lintott</a>, started several <a href="https://www.zooniverse.org/">“citizen science” initiatives</a>, which enlist the help of tens of thousands of people at their home computers to help sort through data. In this case, they’re <a href="http://www.galaxyzoo.org/">categorizing pictures of galaxies </a>from the Hubble Telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. People log on, look at a galaxy and enter its shape, orientation and, if it’s a spiral, which direction the arms are moving. Before long, Lintott noticed that they were getting significantly more counterclockwise galaxies than clockwise galaxies. This was a little scary.</p><p>There’s no reason there should be a bias toward one or the other, because it all depends, of course, on which way you look at the galaxy. If there is more of one kind than the other, that would have some very spooky implications (for example, the universe might be quite small and doughnut-shaped). It would require scientists to throw out well-established axioms about the universe.</p><p>So Lintott and his team worked to get to the bottom of this crazy observation. I won’t give away the punch line, but let’s just say the answer caused Lintott to invoke <a href="http://www.enotes.com/shakespeare-quotes/fault-dear-brutus-our-stars">this quote </a>from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Click the “listen” button above for the whole story.&nbsp;</p><p>Lintott, by the way, is a fascinating fellow in his own right. Besides his gig at the Adler, he does research at Oxford, hosts a long-running series on the BBC called <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/features/skyatnight/aps/team.shtml"><em>The Sky at Night</em></a>, and even wrote a <a href="http://www.banguniverse.com/">book on cosmology </a>with the guitarist from Queen.</p><p>Anyway, don’t forget to subscribe to our <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast" target="_blank" title="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast">podcast</a>, follow us on&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/cleverapes" target="_blank" title="http://twitter.com/#!/cleverapes">Twitter</a>, and find us on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412" target="_blank" title="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>.</p><p><img alt="Dr. Mark Hammergren, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium. (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitz" class="caption" height="450" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-31/use this hammergren.JPG" title="Dr. Mark Hammergren, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium. (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" width="600"></p></p> Tue, 31 Jan 2012 17:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2012-01-31/clever-apes-25-curveballs-space-95995 Exploring outer space with music http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-01/exploring-outer-space-music-93659 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-01/6192572182_6d440ce03b_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The tagline for the 1979 film <em>Alien</em> was, “In space no one can hear you scream.” Fortunately, some other people who looked to the stars heard different sounds. Take <a href="http://josefrancisco.org/" target="_blank">Dr. Jose Francisco Salgado</a>, an astronomer and visual artist at the <a href="http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/" target="_blank">Adler Planetarium</a>. Over the past few years, Salgado and the <a href="http://www.chicagosinfonietta.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Sinfonietta</a> came together to mix art and science. The good doctor provides video footage, still images and historic drawings of the solar system and the Sinfonietta brings the soundtrack. Their latest collaboration is called <a href="http://kv265.org/" target="_blank"><em>Moonrise</em></a> and it will premier this Saturday at<a href="http://northcentralcollege.edu/home" target="_blank"> North Central College</a> in Naperville as part of the <a href="http://www.chicagosinfonietta.org/event/concert-ii/" target="_blank"><em>Under the Night Sky</em></a> concert. To find out more about the lofty goals behind this project, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> spoke with Salgado.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 01 Nov 2011 14:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-01/exploring-outer-space-music-93659 Space explorers look to infinity and beyond after final space shuttle mission http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-22/space-explorers-look-infinity-and-beyond-after-final-space-shuttle-missi <p><p>The tallest building will never reach the skies quite like the space shuttles did. For 30 years the U.S. space shuttle program launched Americans into orbit. When Atlantis touched down Thursday, it punctuated a great chapter of space exploration.The shuttles kept many looking up at the sky but now, it's time to look to the future – or so says the <a href="http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/" target="_blank">Adler Planetarium</a>’s Michelle Nichols-Yehling.</p><p><em>Live Music Button: DJ Matt Warren spins Kid Cudi's "Enter Galactic" with live violin accompaniment by Katarina Visnevska</em></p><br> <p><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 22 Jul 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-22/space-explorers-look-infinity-and-beyond-after-final-space-shuttle-missi Adler: 'Shuttle would have been a game changer' http://www.wbez.org/story/adler-planetarium/no-shuttle-adler-85092 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-12/Adler NASA Announcement.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Disappointment today at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, as the museum was snubbed in its bid to host one of the retiring space shuttles.</p><p>The Adler piped the NASA announcement live into its 3-D Universe Theater. The assembled crowd offered polite applause as the winning institutions were announced: museums in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC and Florida.</p><p>Adler president Paul Knappanberger offered congratulations, though said he was a bit perplexed by the New York museum’s success. He says it’s a missed opportunity for the planetarium.</p><p>“A shuttle would have been a game changer, I think,” he told reporters. “It’s a national treasure, it’s an icon of American achievement. I don’t think any other artifact approaches that icon status.”</p><p>The Adler is expected to get one of those other artifacts as a consolation prize -- the shuttle flight simulator used to train NASA astronauts. It’s reportedly three stories tall and replicates the shuttle’s crew compartment. Knappenberger called it the “next best thing,” and said the museum will likely build a new enclosure to hold it.</p><p>Knappenberger says the failed shuttle campaign was funded almost completely with donated money and services.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 12 Apr 2011 19:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/adler-planetarium/no-shuttle-adler-85092 NASA names new shuttle homes http://www.wbez.org/story/news/nasa-names-new-shuttle-homes-85080 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-12/Enterprise_Getty_Alex Wong.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago's Adler Planetarium will not be home to a space shuttle, but will get a shuttle flight simulator as consolation prize.</p><p>New York City will be the new home of space shuttle Enterprise, the prototype shuttle used for test flights more than three decades ago. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand said Tuesday that Enterprise will go to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Enterprise has been on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington. But NASA plans to send shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian once the shuttle program ends this summer.</p><p>The Kennedy Space Center in Florida will house the Atlantis shuttle. The Endeavour will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.</p><p>Twenty-one museums and centers around the country put in bids for the spaceships including Chicago's Adler Planetarium. The announcement comes on the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle flight.</p></p> Tue, 12 Apr 2011 17:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/nasa-names-new-shuttle-homes-85080