September 16, 2011 | 5:11 pm
Posted by Dani Kollin
In one of the most iconic scenes in the sci-fi epic, Star Wars, Luke Skywalker stares up into a fading sky framed by two setting suns over the dusty plains of the planet Tatooine. Yesterday, NASA announced that their exoplanet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope had discovered the first unambiguous example of a Tatooine-like planet, now called Kepler-16b.
What NASA’s calling a “circumbinary planet,” I’d just assume call “bitchin’”. This wondrous little world is orbiting some 200 light years from your local falafel stand, is made of a volatile mix of gas and rock and at minus 100 to 150 F is, in the words of astronomer Laurance Doyle who led the team that first observed it, “kind of like a nippy day on Mars.” The larger of the two suns is roughly 69% the mass of our Sun, while the smaller, red star is closer to 20% of our Sun’s mass.
Because there is no actual “surface” on Kepler-16b, Luke, or any carbon-based life form foolish enough to book a ticket, might have a hard time appreciating the sunset. Ah, but Kepler-16b could, according the NASA team, have a moon. And you can just imagine what that view must look like. You’d see a large orange star twice the apparent size of our Sun and a smaller, fainter red star companion orbiting around each other at 41-day intervals. At that rate, you’d often have two sunsets and two sunrises per day. Great, if you’re a sci-fi geek. Not so great if you’re an Orthodox Jew. And don’t even get me started on what that might entail for a two-day yuntiv.
So what’s it all mean? Only that the universe continues to amaze, as it should, and that for a brief moment in time, there was no upcoming election, no UN resolutions, no bills to pay. There was only a lonely, distant world quietly ambling its way between two suns, capturing our imagination and fueling our dreams.
We welcome your feedback.
Your information will not be shared or sold without your consent. Get all the details.
JewishJournal.com has rules for its commenting community.Get all the details.
JewishJournal.com reserves the right to use your comment in our weekly print publication.
6.6.12 at 11:18 pm | Understanding The Power of Ray
5.17.12 at 2:13 pm | Of four novels written, three are dominated by. . .
12.21.11 at 10:07 am | Artist Jeffrey Schreir Describes Why He's Pumped. . .
12.20.11 at 12:11 pm | Happy Hanukkah from the other reindeer.
12.13.11 at 11:15 am | Award-winning Author Naomi Alderman Gets Tapped. . .
11.18.11 at 10:03 am | Forgive me father for I have punned
12.13.11 at 11:15 am | Award-winning Author Naomi Alderman Gets Tapped. . . (14)
12.20.11 at 12:11 pm | Happy Hanukkah from the other reindeer. (10)
6.6.12 at 11:18 pm | Understanding The Power of Ray (5)