Secrets of the Deep Sky
A fundamental starting point for effective research in any scientific field is to first submit the constituents of that particular domain of science to a process of categorization, taxonomy, and systematics. Linnaeus, a compulsive cataloger, spent a lifetime classifying living species and Tycho Brahe laboriously mapped the position of the planets and stars of the heavens for 20 yr of his life (1). These enormous tasks embodied years of painstaking and repetitive observation and calculation. Although predicated on deeply unglamorous, day-to-day work, the resulting body of data formed the basis of all further scientific inquiry and discovery in the fields of botany and astronomy, thereafter.
There is no firm definition of planet , but although this is a significant issue in astronomy it need not impinge on our discussion here. At the lower end of the size range there is no absolute distinction between planet, planetessimal and asteroid these are names for different portions of a size continuum. At the upper end, there is no clear way of discriminating between planets and superplanets, or superplanets and brown dwarfs. (A brown dwarf is a very small star that emits no light.) However, asteroids are unlikely to house the components necessary for any kind of life, and the
Moreover, investigating the origin of life has produced interesting and provocative ideas. No matter how sceptical we might be about (for example) the Miller-Urey experiment and the RNA world hypothesis, these and other contributions to the field have stimulated sound scientific work that has yielded useful knowledge in chemistry and other fields. Many debates about the origin of life have brought together information from astronomy, geology, biology and chemistry in novel and informative ways. This synthesis would not have happened otherwise. And as we said in the first chapter of this book, ideas are enjoyable in themselves if we can hone them by rational debate particularly when the ideas concern such an intrinsically fascinating topic as the origin of life.
In 1961, Frank Drake, a radio astronomer who later became chairman of the SETI Institute, tried to specify the factors involved in the development of a technologically advanced alien civilisation. He encapsulated his ideas in an equation that has guided much subsequent discussion of the subject. The equation can be written -
Through this ebook, you are going to learn what you will need to know all about the telescopes that can provide a fun and rewarding hobby for you and your family!