Last July 4th I was busy battening down the hatches for a typhoon. Typhoon Chata’an struck on Friday July 5th, and left a wake of destruction in it’s path. Power was out for weeks, some friends lost their homes and livelihoods, thousands were laid off in the economic slump following the storm and even my office was destroyed by the winds. I guess this is about when things went sour for 2002. The island was just recovering from Chata’an when Super-Typhoon Pongsona delivered a knock-out blow in December. The island is still coming to grips with that disaster.
Astronomers announced the discovery of the first star outside our sun to possess a planet in a stable, circular orbit. All the previously detected planets were so called ‘hot Jupiters,’ oversized gas giants in highly elliptical orbits close to their parent star. These giants are considered inimicable to life because they would disrupt the orbits of smaller, terrestrial worlds with their erratic orbits.
The newly discovered planet is in a stable, circular orbit roughly the same distance as Jupiter is from the sun. Jupiter’s position in the solar system is considered crucial for the development of life on earth. Scientists term Jupiter the solar system’s cosmic outfielder, snagging wayward asteroids and comets that might threaten to extinguish life on earth. This discovery raises the chances of someday imaging an earth-like world.