Two very interesting articles came to my attention last week, one about our solar system and the other about the deep space beyond.
The article published on the New Scientist website is titled “Our unknown solar system”. It is kind of a compilation of six other articles that appear on the same website. Each of these six articles focuses on one aspect of the solar system that is still a mystery to the humanity.
The first article, How was the solar system built?, gives an insight into the birth of our solar system and of course about the things we do not know certainly about the solar system. The second, Why are the sun and moon the same size in the sky?, talks about eclipses. In the beginning it seemed a little weird to me that this should be a subject of an article. The explanation is too straight forward; the Sun is 400 times larger than the Moon but also 400 times farther. But as I went on to read the article, it became clear that the article focused on the possibility that this might not be a mere coincidence and how the size of the Moon might be responsible for origin of life on Earth. Is there a Planet X? is the third article in the series which, as the title suggests, explores the possibility of an as yet unknown planet on the outskirts of our solar system. The next article, Where do comets come from?, was a bit of a surprise for me as I had thought the astronomers knew the answer to this question. Along with listing what we do not know about the comets, it also gives nice overview of different types of comets and the reasons why it is difficult to spot and study them. The fifth in series is, Is the solar system unique?, which tackles the question in the title and the possibility of the answer being “no” is increasing along with our knowledge of the Universe around us. And lastly, How will the solar system end?, delves into the still-far-into-the-future event of the end of our solar system.
The other article is a contribution by John Roach to the MSNBC website. It talks about the project “From Earth to the Universe” which is one of the several projects organized to mark the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 09). More than 40 countries have agreed to participate in this project and have made 125 images from their respective space agencies for display around the world, in public places like the airports, parks etc. The article shares 10 of these images along with little information snippets about them. It makes a great read for anyone interested in mesmerising images from the outer space, which I think is most of us.