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Centauri Dreams

Gaia: Data Release 2 Announced

26 Apr 2018, 15:38 UTC
Gaia: Data Release 2 Announced
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Back in the late 1970s I didn’t know anything about star catalogs. I suppose that, if asked, I would have assumed they were out there — how otherwise could astronomers do their jobs? But the first catalog of stars that came into my life emerged when I was writing an article about SETI, a field I developed an intense interest in and at that time knew very little about. For the article I needed to identify the closest stars, and thus I stumbled upon the Gliese Catalog of Nearby Stars, and over the course of time became absorbed by the idea of exoplanets.
In many ways my first dip into the Gliese catalog began the journey that continues here, because that first SETI article was the forerunner of the kind of writing I have been doing since the turn of the century. In that time our catalogs have grown more and more interesting to me, but none can match today’s, the all-sky view of almost 1.7 billion stars that is the result of the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission. The second Gaia data release became available on April 25 and includes parallax, proper motion and color data for more than ...

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