Planet with water vapour.

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On the news tonight. A planet about twice the size of Earth has been found with water vapour in its atmosphere. Its around 100 light years away. Apparently its within the ‘goldilocks’ area around its star so its temperature is between 0°C and 40°C. It would be amazing if there was life there. The latest science is now looking for chemical traces in planetary atmospheres to look for the possibility of life on other planets.

I think the first extra solar planet was found in 1984? Since then about four thousand have been found. There are Hot Jupiter’s that orbit their stars closer than the orbit of Mercury in our solar system. There are cold Jupiter’s, there are also planets like Earth with surfaces that are covered in lava because they are close to their stars. And then there are terrestrial (rocky) planets that are more like the ones in our system.

One thing is certain, there are more planets out there than we know!

Finished Mars

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Finished, the colours are a bit off as I’m painting under electric light. I’ve tried to get accurate details on it although I’m still wanting it to be painterly. I don’t want my paintings to look airbrushed or filtered.

It’s the old analogue or digital argument. Everything is HD these days. But I’m not trying to get photo realism, just realism. So, now I’m going to leave this. If I have a night’s sleep I might be able to come back to it. There are thousands of craters and trenches and rills and canyons on Mars. It’s a rocky planet with a very thin atmosphere. It can be completely covered by dust storms and the details of the surface can be covered over. The carbon dioxide poles shrink and grow dependent on the seasons. In the past the surface was imagined to be covered with canals (a misinterpretation of the Italian word Canali – meaning channels). Astronomers thought the dark patches were vegetation. Now we know Mars is a rocky, desert planet. About two thirds the size of Earth with lower gravity. It has lost most of its atmosphere and water over billions of years, probably because its molten core has solidified and it now has no magnetic shield to stop solar radiation from causing the atmosphere to stream away into space.

Holst’s Planet Suite

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I’m watching a programme, late at night, with Holst’s planet suite. But it’s also got Professor Brian Cox, a famous astronomer, who is explaining details about the planets. During each section there are beautiful images of each of the planets, now they are showing multi cratered Mercury. If you have never heard the Planet Suite I would recommend it. The music is sublime, lyrical, atmospheric, full of complexity and confident, in turns loud and soft, discord and soaring melodies wrap into and around each other. There are sections covering rising octaves, then dropping down to gentle breezes of notes.

Jupiter is the next planet, and he is explaining the atmosphere and the poles of the planet. Its exactly the sort of programme I love, art, creativity and science mingled together.

If you can find it on the BBC iplayer I would recommend watching it.