Planetary First

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Planetary first according to Science News 26 January, 2002 p.62, wich reports: "The first image of a planet orbiting a star other than the sun may be only a year away, thanks to a powerful image-up sharpening technique called adaptive optics. Because stars are thousands of millions of times brighter than their planets, even a planet several times as massive as Jupiter is not easy to discern against the glare of its stellar parent. That’s why researchers have so far inferred the existence of the 80 or so known extra solar planets only indirectly, by the wobble they induce in the motion of the stars they orbit.”

Editorial Comment: So much for the textbooks and the newspapers that leave this little detail out when they report blatantly that planets have been observed around other stars, and then proceed to move on with great scenarios about the possibility of life on them. It pays to remember the current limitations of any scientific research. (Ref. stars, planets, space)