144 Billion Earth-like Exoplanets in our Galaxy

June 2013 : Kepler Mission updated its estimates. Here are these latest numbers right from the horses-mouth (Professor Ravi Kopparapu). As at 20 June 2013, Dr. Kopparapu, expert with the Kepler Mission estimates :

  • Stars in the Galaxy : 400 billion
  • The number of habitable earth-like exoplanets in our Milky Way Galaxy : 144 billion (> 1011).
  • The OORT Cloud around our Sun (it is also hypothesized by some astronomers that most suns have OORT clouds) is estimated :
      • to contain : several trillion individual asteroids (objects) larger than 1 km (0.62 mi).
      • to reach 1 ly towards the next closest star just 4 ly away – Proxima Centauri.

Comets have a wide range of orbital periods, ranging from a few years to hundreds of thousands of years. Short-period comets originate in the Kuiper belt (eg Halley’s Comet – orbit 75 years). Longer-period comets are thought to originate in the Oort cloud (Orbit – thousands of years). The latest theory is that they are mostly water, with a frozen, dust-encrusted shell. This would explain why objects like the Chelyabinsk, in February 2013, often leave few meteorites (rock fragments).

This year (In 2013), ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA))  – which CANADA is part of – managed from Herzberg Institute in Victoria, BC) has confirmed that researchers have discovered an important pair of prebiotic molecules in the icy particles in interstellar space (ISM). ISM is the empty part of the spiral arms.

The chemicals, found in a giant cloud of gas about 25,000 light-years (half way to centre of the galaxy) from Earth in ISM, may be a precursor to a key component of DNA and the other may have a role in the formation of an important amino acid.

Researchers found a molecule called cyanomethanimine, which produces adenine, one of the four nucleobases that form the “rungs” in the ladder-like structure of DNA. The other molecule, called ethanamine, is thought to play a role in forming alanine, one of the twenty amino acids in the genetic code.

Previously, scientists thought such processes took place in the very tenuous gas between the stars. The new discoveries, however, suggest that the chemical formation sequences for these molecules occurred not in gas, but on the surfaces of ice grains in interstellar space.

In February 2013, NASA ALMA spokesman announced : “Finding these molecules in an interstellar gas cloud means that important building blocks for DNA and amino acids can ‘seed’ newly-formed planets with the chemical precursors for life.” 

See Video Interview and Animations with Dr. Anthony Remijan of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

 “…..Microbiology may be said to have had its beginnings in the nineteen-forties. A new world of the most astonishing complexity began then to be revealed. In retrospect I find it remarkable that microbiologists did not at once recognise that the world into which they had penetrated had of necessity to be of cosmic order. I suspect that the cosmic quality of microbiology will seem as obvious to future generations as the Sun being the centre of the solar system seems obvious to the present generation…..”

Sir Fred Hoyle 

NASA wants amateur astronomers to track ‘dangerous’ asteroids

Here’s your chance to save the planet!  NASA has called on amateur astronomers and other citizen-scientists to help identify the smaller and potentially destructive asteroids lurking in the cosmos, which could wipe out a city upon impact with Earth. 

Scientists estimate that about 90 per cent of asteroids that are one kilometre or larger which pose potential planet-wide danger have been surveyed. However, more than 99 per cent of asteroids that are 30 to 40 meters in size which might not destroy the planet, but could very easily wipe out a city – have yet to be found and tracked, the ‘National Geographic’ reported. 

NASA’s announcement this week comes four months after an 18-meter-long asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February.


Full 52 minute NOVA Show : 


On the same day, an asteroid named 2012 DA14 brushed past Earth from a distance of less than 28,000 kilometres away. 

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology (BCAB) has classified two major threats to the human race :

• the threat that near-Earth asteroids are posing for the human race

• the threat that “inbound” viruses and bacteria are also posing to human race

Wickramasinghe is recognized as the father of modern day astrobiology. He is certainly the person who has done most to influence the global development of this newly emerging science which builds upon a substantial knowledge-base from the quite separate disciplines of mathematics, physics, biology and paleontology.

On June 18, 2013 Ed Lu, ex-NASA astronaut, praised the White House and NASA announcement. “This directly mirrors the mission of the non-profit private B612 Foundation and our Sentinel Mission, and we strongly applaud NASA and the Obama Administration for their leadership in raising the visibility of this critical issue and for establishing detection of asteroids as a national priority.  The Administration has called for a team “of the best and brightest” working on this together and we look forward to increased collaboration and partnership.

The latest estimate is that there are one million asteroids with the potential to impact Earth with energy large enough to obliterate any major city. We believe that the goal must be to find these one million asteroids – anything less, in our opinion, would not meet the intent of this Grand Challenge.


Website Upgrade to Joomla 2.5 Completed

We have now migrated our website to Joomla 2.5. Please excuse us if there are any problems. Feel free to test the new site. We welcome you to report issues and suggestions to wesmith@outlook.com . 

Click here to see more about our new design – Joomspirit template 75. Three of the good things with this template are :

  1. the template flexibility
  2. iPhone/iPad/Smartphone support (check it out)
  3. and the support of a brilliant graphics designer in France who designed the template and owns the 1 man company. 

We plan to make this site very exciting. We also plan to add a video/image management plugin.

If anyone on the BCMeteors team knows a good logo designer, please let me know. We need a “logo refresh” 🙂

Three Comets and an Asteroid in 2013

Three comets expected this year, two dim and one bright

Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4): visible March 5 until April 2013: this Comet will pass within one AU from the Earth as it proceeds onward to dip inside the orbit of Mercury. It is dim but visible with the unaided eye.

From Earth, the comet will appear close to the Sun, and it will only be observable briefly on the north-western horizon just after sunset, close to the crescent Moon on March 13. It’s only viewable for about 20 minutes, from about 8:15 until 8:40pm Mountain Daylight Time. The sky is too bright after sunset so you have to wait until about 8:15 when the sky darkens, but if there are mountains on the horizon, it will set below them within 15 or 20 minutes. It’s on the Northwest horizon, above Pegasus. It’s difficult to see at first, binoculars help a lot. It’s slowly moving North, by April 1 it will move closer to the Andromeda Galaxy.

Comet Pan-STARRS was discovered by the 1.8 meter telescope at the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System atop the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii, and named “Pan-STARRS” in it’s honour. It’s in a hyperbolic path, for orbital elements see JPL C/2011 L4

Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6) already visible as a green blob in the Southern hemisphere, will be visible in the Northern hemisphere by April 2013 as it recedes back into the outer solar system on its 11,000-year orbit. Rather dim, it requires a telescope or binoculars to observe it. For orbital elements see JPL C/2012 F6

On November 2013: Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) could shine as brightly as a full Moon in broad daylight when it passes through the atmosphere of the sun. Although the comet is now only passing Jupiter’s orbit, more than 4.9 AU (763 million kilometers) from the sun, it already has a tail 64,400 km long. See JPL C/2012 S1

ISON was discovered on 21 Sept. 2012, by two Russian astronomers using the International Scientific Optical Network’s 16-inch telescope near Kislovodsk. And therefore named Comet ISON.

On 15 Feb 2013, Asteroid 2012 DA14, a 150-ft diameter stone skimmed by the Earth, passing inside the ring of geosynchronous satellites, 27,700 km above the Earth’s surface, before zipping back out into space at 7.8 km/s.

First Image from Cattle Point – RASC Victoria

2013-03-31 at Cattle Point Urban Star Park in Victoria BC. First time at the newest Urban Dark Sky site in Canada. John McDonald captures the Comet Pan Starrs which is receding and not as bright as it has been. But still shows up nicely along with the Andromeda Galaxy in this wide field image.


  • Canon 6D with 24 to 105mm lens operating at 105mm.
  • Exposure – 4 – 3.2s at ISO 6400 and f/4.
  • Processing in Photoshop.

Click on Image below to see high resolution image.

Cattle Point National Urban Star Park Approved

March 29, 2013 : Royal Astronomical Society of Canada approves the new CATTLE POINT NATIONAL URBAN STAR PARK which will be based in Oak Bay, Victoria, BC Canada. It’s unique low lighting provides a wonderful location for star gazing.

The popular picnic and birdwatching destination is approved by both Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and Oak Bay Municipality as one of the nation’s dark sky sites – there are 14 countryside “dark sky preserves” but only one other urban star park.

Mark Bohlman, an astronomy enthusiast who got his first telescope as a child, first presented Oak Bay council with the proposal last October 2012 and it was ultimately approved by council in January 2013. The Victoria branch of RASC after getting the go-ahead Friday from the national committee, now plans the implementation.  Volunteers are encouraged to contact Mark Bohlman <mbohlman@shaw.ca> or Bill Smith at wesmith@outlook.com

Some Preliminary Ideas for the Park


  • Website and SmartPhone app to match the park’s location and date/time – with audio narrative – for sample content see “Night Sky” by Rick Nowell.
  • Cairns to match exact location of summer and winter solstice(s)
  • Some extremely interesting construct – Below is vision of how a monolith might look (ala “2001 – a space odyssey”).


    • Say 12 feet high.
    • Granite or marble.
    • Perhaps with creative use of glass
    • Embedded solar powered PC +
    • screen inside glass/granite remotely programmable

Goal is to create a great learning experience for students and tourists.


Ideas are already coming in fast and furious. These include a real-time app for the park perhaps linked to the world-wide telescope or a real telescope mounted in the park. Also planned is an iPhone app and use of “Google Glasses” for tourists and local visitors.

The possible engraved “monolith” (ala 2001 – a space odyssey”) if permission is given to erect, could be engraved with items like :

1) Burgess-Sagan’s Pioneer plaque – engraved


2)Engraved Pale Blue Dot speech: by Carl Sagan :

{youtube}wupToqz1e2g {/youtube}

3)Drakes Equation


N = R* fp ne fl fi fc L



•N = The number of communicative civilizations

•R* = The rate of formation of suitable stars (stars such as our Sun)

•fp = The fraction of those stars with planets. (Current evidence indicates that planetary systems may be common for stars like the Sun.)

•ne = The number of Earth-like worlds per planetary system

•fl  = The fraction of those Earth-like planets where life actually develops

•fi = The fraction of life sites where intelligence develops

•fc = The fraction of communicative planets (those on which electromagnetic communications technology develops)

•L = The “lifetime” of communicating civilizations

Frank Drake’s own current solution to the Drake Equation estimates 10,000 communicative civilizations in the Milky Way. Dr. Drake, who serves on the SETI League’s advisory board, has personally endorsed SETI’s planned all-sky survey.