On Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern, you can get a live look at Proxima Centauri’s recently discovered planet, Proxima b. Slooh will host live views of the parent star, plus commentary from members of the European Space Agency team who helped make the discovery, from its telescope in Chile.
Proxima b is an unusually Earth-like planet, and its discovery has gotten members of the scientific community (journalists included) excited about its potential ability to support life. It’s not the first potentially habitable exoplanet we’ve discovered, but it is the closest one we’ve found yet (Proxima Centauri is, as the name suggests, the next-closest star to our own). The planet is just 4.25 lightyears away, meaning that unlike other Earth-like planets, we might actually be able to reach it within a human lifetime.
“Proxima Centauri was one of the first objects Slooh members pointed the new telescopes to when we launched our southern hemisphere in Chile back in 2007. We received an early alert from the Pale Red Dot campaign a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve been imaging the star every clear night since,” Slooh Astronomer Paul Cox told the American Astronomical Society. “It’s amazing to watch that small red dot live in the online telescopes every night — and imagine the Earth-like world that we now know orbits the star. With the possibility that liquid water exists on Proxima b,’ who knows, there may be some Centaurian amateur astronomers gazing back at us every night!”