The search for extraterrestrial intelligence just got a big boost, thanks to the introduction of a powerful new infrared telescope. In addition to scanning for pulses of infrared light, astronomers will use device to search for alien megastructures, such as Dyson Spheres.
Earlier this year, the world's oldest mountaintop observatory was teetering on dying off. Not due to technology obsolescence, or even creeping light pollution, but because the overseeing university decided it wasn't worth funding any more. Now, thanks to public outrage, they've got the cash to keep doing science.
The Lick Observatory in the mountains east of San Jose, California, is the testing grounds for all-new technology developed by graduate students in the Univeristy of California system. At least, it has been. Now it's being defunded, it's an open question where testing will take place in the not-so-distant future.
Exoplanets—planets orbiting stars that aren't our Sun—seem to be popping out of the cosmic woodwork now that we know where and how to look for them. The Kepler mission alone has discovered 961 of them, and it's only looking at a tiny sliver of distant space. Just think of how many we'll find when the new James Lick…
It may look like a movie frame showing an Evil Mad Scientist lair, but it's just a one-minute exposure photograph of Lick Observatory, as seen from Kepler Peak. It's part of a series of outstanding shots of this beautiful place by Laurie Hatch. I asked Laurie to tell us about herself and show us her work.