Label: Exoplanets

March 13, 2018

When I was a little kid I was obsessed with space monsters. I suspected that when they found alien life on Mars, they would BE space monsters. Of course, this turned out not to be true, but throughout my early years I continued to read the multitude of science fiction magazines :that were published in those years: Astounding Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and Fantastic Stories. The stories in these magazines were written by great writers, some of whom also wrote science non-fiction—- writers like Isaac Asimov,  E.E. Smith, Fritz Lieber, H.G. Wells, L. Ron Hubbard, Jules Verne, and Robert Heinlein. They were my heroes.

So, when I proposed this book to HarperCollins and they agreed to do it, I was thrilled. I’ve written many books about space, but this particular volume goes beyond what we know, to consider the still unknown. In a way, although it is a nonfiction book it has a "science fiction" quality, and I loved writing it. I hope I’ve done justice to those writers whose work I admired, and who influenced me so greatly.

Cover of Seymour Simon's EXOPLANETS

While I was writing EXOPLANETS I was simultaneously reorganizing my library for a move to our new house. I’ve accumulated thousands of collectible books over the years, so it was quite a project. I own a beautiful set of leather-bound books which are the collected stories of H.G. Wells. When I opened up a volume titled "Stories of Space and Time," I discovered a neatly folded, hand-written letter from HG Wells, written to a friend in 1927. What a find! We’re having it framed and look forward to deciphering his very tiny handwriting to learn what it says. 

Seymour Simon’s EXOPLANETS is being published by HarperCollins on March 27, 2018 and is available for pre-order now.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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August 24, 2010

A very exciting discovery was announced today at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence, France.

Astronomers have detected a planetary system containing at least five  - and maybe seven - planets that orbit a star called HD 10180, which is much like our own Sun. They say this is the "richest" system of exoplanets - planets outside our own Solar System - ever found.

Up until now, astronomers had known of fifteen systems with at least three planets, but never one that was this similar to ours in terms of the number of planets (seven as compared to the Solar System’s eight planets). The team also has evidence that the distances of the planets from their star follow a regular pattern, as also seen in our Solar System (this is known as the Titius-Bode law).

The star is 127 light years away, in the southern constellation of Hydrus.

Researchers used the HARPS (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher) instrument at the European Southern Observatory to monitor light emitted from the system. The lead author of the paper, Dr. Christophe Lovis, explained how the planet searcher works. "If there is one planet it will induce a little movement - the star will come towards us and move away….and what works for one [planet] works for many." Using HARP, Dr. Lovis and his team were able to measure this complicated mix of movements and break it down into individual planets, calculating the mass of each planet and the path of its orbit.

Martin Dominik, one of the researchers on the project, told reporters why this discovery is so important to us here on Earth. "[This] marks the way towards gathering the information that will put our own existence into cosmic context."

I have been an amateur astronomer all my life, and was President of the Junior Astronomy Club at the American Museum of Natural History when I was in high school. I love science news stories like these - I guess that is why I’ve written as many books as I have about space. Kids can read more about stars and the exoplanets that orbit them in my book STARS.











Photo Credits for this Science News story:

The first photograph shows a close-up of the sky around the star HD 10180. The picture was created from photographs taken through red and blue filters and forming part of the Digitized Sky Survey 2. Provided courtesy of ESO.

The second image is an artist’s impression of the new solar system, also courtesy of ESO.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Solar System, Stars, Universe, Exoplanets   •  Permalink (link to this article)