Monday, 20 September 2010 11:52
Today's fun fact: The universe is big. Like, really big. And because it's so darn big, a lot of cool stuff is bound to happen inside it, right? Right! This past week, astronomers made a wild new discovery concerning Halley's comet, folks prepared to see another planet up close, and the possibilities of space tourism took off. Below, a roundup of those stories and more. Prepare for lift off — it's the Buzz Week in Review.
*The history of Halley's comet
This week, a new study found that Halley's comet was probably spotted by ancient Greeks in 466 B.C. Previous estimates had its first "documented observation" about 200 years later.
News of the study pushed Web searches on "halley's comet pictures" and "who named halley's comet." An excellent article from Space.com explains that the comet is named after English astronomer Edmond Halley. He successfully predicted that it would appear in 1758, and when it did, the comet was given his name.
Researchers looked back on ancient documents and concluded that it's likely that the asteroid the Greeks wrote about was actually our old friend Halley. As for those of us around today, Halley's comet was last seen in 1986, and won't be seen again until 2061. Plenty of time to get your telescopes ready.
*Jupiter up close and personal
This coming Monday, the solar system's largest planet will pass within 368 million miles of our home. It's been almost 50 years since Jupiter has been this close to Earth.
A buzzy article from the AP explains that the planet already looks like "an incredibly bright star." In fact, the only thing that appears brighter "in the night sky right now is our moon." By Monday, Jupiter should be even more visible, but "binoculars and telescopes will dramatically improve the view."
Web searchers are already aware of Jupiter's looming close-encounter. Web queries on "jupiter pictures" and "how to find jupiter" both surged late this week. By the time Monday rolls around, we expect the interest, much like the planet, to be even brighter.
*Boeing pushing space tourism
NASA officials have said the space agency needs to evolve, and Boeing wants to help. The aerospace company is pushing forward with an aggressive plan for space tourism.
It won't be cheap for passengers to ride the light fantastic (millions of dollars per flight), but already Web searchers are taking an interest. Lookups on "space tourism" surged 78% this week. Still, don't go buying astronaut ice cream just yet. Budget issues still have to be resolved.
By Mike Krumboltz
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