"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"
We have all heard reports of astronomers claiming that they have discovered a planet orbiting some nearby star. Each announcement results in speculation about whether there is intelligent life on the newly discovered planet. Lost is the fact that some planets are larger than Jupiter and made of gas. Scientists discover these planets by studying hundreds of telescopic pictures of a suspect star to see if there may be a tiny wobble in its position. A single-motion wobble is explained by the existence of one orbiting planet, meaning that this solar system does not have multiple planets like ours does.
That situation changed with an announcement in April 1999. Two teams of researchers announced that they had discovered three planets orbiting nearby star Upsilon Andromedae. However, this solar system is not like ours either. The inner planet is so close to the star that it is hotter than Mercury – no life there. The second planet's orbit takes it close to the star, then swings wide away from it. Such an orbit would provide temperature conditions far too erratic for life like that on Earth. The third planet is too far from Upsilon Andromedae and, thus, too cold to provide a home for life like ours.
Our solar system is not a result of chance but has been uniquely designed for life by a loving Creator. Not only is Earth's distance from the sun just right for life, but its orbit provides the even, moderate conditions that life requires.
Notes: R. Cowen, "Astronomers Find Planetary System," Science News, v. 155, April 17, 1999. p. 244.
Image: Artist's rendition of Upsilon Andromedae A with two of its four planets. Courtesy of Drtony999. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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