Observing the Planets with a Telescope

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Hubble's Legacy and Beyond
Episode 12 of Experiencing Hubble
Finish the course by looking at the future of Hubble and the next generation of space telescopes. Focus in particular on the search for extrasolar planets, how they are found, and the role Hubble and other telescopes play in extending our knowledge of possibly earthlike worlds.
Part of the Series: The Planets
How did our Moon come to be? In the early part of the century there were nearly as many explanations as there are planets in the Solar System. Observations of our planetary neighbours showed a different story each time: Jupiter's moons are the jewels of the crown, Saturn has moons…
Sniffing Planetary Atmospheres
Survey the history of spectroscopy to understand how a telescope and a diffraction grating can disclose the composition of a star and its planet. Then learn how transits and occultations are ideal for analyzing planetary atmospheres, paving the way for the search for signatures of life.
Resonance—Surprises in the Intricate Dance
Resonance happens whenever a small periodic force produces a large effect on a periodic motion--for example, when you push a child on a swing. Learn how resonance due to gravitational interactions between three bodies can lead to amazing phenomena with planets, asteroids, and rings of planets.
Super-Earths or Mini-Neptunes?
Learn how a sensitive new instrument led the way in finding planets smaller than the Jupiter-sized giants that dominated the earliest exoplanetary discoveries. Halfway in size between Earth and Neptune, these worlds have uncertain properties. For clues about their nature, consider how our solar system formed.
Explaining the Misplaced Giant Planets
The standard theory of planet formation is based on our solar system. But does this view require revision based on the existence of misplaced giant planets--hot Jupiters circling close to their parent stars? Compare competing theories that try to resolve this conflict.
The Cat's Eye Nebula: A Stellar Demise
Episode 5 of Experiencing Hubble
Turning from star birth to star death, get a preview of the sun's distant future by examining the Cat's Eye Nebulae. Such planetary nebulae (which have nothing to do with planets) are the exposed debris of dying stars and are among the most beautiful objects in the Hubble gallery.
Part of the Series: The Planets
It is December 1971 and Soviet scientists are bracing themselves for an encounter with Mars at twenty-five thousand kilometres an hour. Mars 2 and 3 are their most advanced probes to date, and if all goes well they will steal for the Soviet Union the first ever pictures from the…
Terra Firma
Part of the Series: The Planets
An orange glow roars from Mariner 9's booster rocket placing it in orbit around Mars. Beneath the scrutiny of its camera lens lay the largest volcano in the Solar System and canyons deep enough to swallow the Alps.The Red Planet bore the scars of violent volcanic eruptions blistering its ancient…
Seeing and Navigating the Sky
Episode 2 of Our Night Sky Series
The naked eye is a powerful instrument: if you know how to use it. Learn the best times and conditions for observing, how to identify the positions and magnitudes of stars and planets, how the sky changes over the course of a night, how to use astronomical maps such as…
The Search for Exoplanets: What Astronomers Know
As recently as 1990, it seemed plausible that the solar system was a unique phenomenon in our galaxy. Thanks to advances in technology and clever new uses of existing data, now we know that planetary systems and possibly even a new Earth can be found throughout galaxies near and far.…
Alien Planets Revealed
Part of the Series: NOVA
It's a golden age for planet hunters: NASA's Kepler mission has identified more than 3,500 potential planets orbiting stars beyond our Sun. Some of them, like a planet called Kepler-22b, might even be able to harbor life. How did we come upon this distant planet? Combining startling animation with input…