The Planets that Never Were (Synopsis)

In 1992, scientists discovered the first planets orbiting a star other than our Sun. The pulsar PSR B1257+12 was discovered to have its own planetary system, and since then, exoplanet discoveries have exploded!

Artist’s conception of worlds around PSR 1257+12, the first system (discovered 1992) with verified extrasolar planets. Illustration credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC).
Artist’s conception of worlds around PSR 1257+12, the first system (discovered 1992) with verified extrasolar planets. Illustration credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC).

But did you know that long before that, back in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, a scientist studying Barnard’s Star — the second-closest star system to the Sun — claimed to have discovered the first exoplanets in history? This was no crackpot, either, but a pioneer of astrometry and one of the most respected scientists in his field, and one of the most exciting moments in (now forgotten) science history!

Image credit: Paul Mortfield & Stefano Cancelli, via http://www.backyardastronomer.com/ccd/barnard.htm.
Image credit: Paul Mortfield & Stefano Cancelli, via http://www.backyardastronomer.com/ccd/barnard.htm.

Come discover the whole amazing story, courtesy of Paul Halpern’s amazing storytelling and researching skills!