this? It's been in the news and everything. I'm a huge space exploration geek. I had a poster of the solar system in my bedroom when I was... uh... I dunno five, six, something like that. So why would I keep quiet?Media overhypes anything that could possibly maybe have a chance at being earth-like. It's just one of those things that should fascinate the living daylights out of me but has only really registered as a blip on my personal radar.
Support your local observatories, planetariums, astronomy clubs, or whatever folks. Granted these days most 'serious' astronomy is done via computers, with few, if any, moments of directly peering through the giant telescopes but it's still very much a branch that's romanticized... if only by me, of people working long hours of the night laboring over photographic plates. Images that probably haven't been true since the seventies and made invalid in the age of computers and software capable of digging details finer than any human could ever find unaided.
To put bluntly I don't know. Granted not all of these things that warrant continued observation are planet; but I hate the idea that discovering extrasolar planets has become so ho-hum that I've been passing the experiance off as mundane.
Think about this for a moment.
Jupiter. Largest planet of our solar system. King of our planetary back yard. IT is, in this thought experiment, the size of an orange. Following that scale Earth would be somewhere on the order of the size of a marble. Our sun, a smallish one so far as such things go, would be the size of a house. Said House would be shining insanely bright and none of the smaller grapefruits or grains of sand orbiting give off any light. So the fact that we've been able to look at things that are TRILLIONS of mile s a way, so far that we have to use the speed of light as a yardstick to even begin wrapping our mind around the distances involved, and we're able to find stuff.
At first it was either solid iron chunks orbiting pulsars. Then it was the super-Jupiter and or brown dwarfs orbiting either oddly or really close to their parent stars. Now we're finding stuff that could possibly be as little as two times the size of our little blue marble of a world.