Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, June 18, 2016

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Mountain Views-News Saturday, June 18, 2016 


If you cast your eyes toward the constellation Cygnus 
the Swan, you’ll be looking in the direction of the 
largest planet yet discovered around a double-star 
system. It’s too faint to see with the naked eye, but 
a team led by astronomers from NASA’s Goddard 
Space Flight Center and San Diego State University 
used the Kepler Space Telescope to identify the new 
planet, Kepler-1647b.

 Planets that orbit two stars are called 
circumbinary planets, or “Tatooine” planets, 
after Luke Skywalker’s homeland in “Star Wars.” 
To detect planets, the Kepler telescope looks for 
slight dips in brightness that hint a planet might 
be transiting in front of a star, blocking some of 
the star’s light.

 “But finding circumbinary planets is much 
harder than finding planets around single stars,” 
said SDSU astronomer William Welsh, one of the 
paper’s coauthors. “The transits are not regularly 
spaced in time and they can vary in duration and 
even depth.”

 Once a candidate planet is found, researchers 
employ advanced computer programs to determine 
if it really is a planet. It can be a grueling process. 
Laurance Doyle, a coauthor on the paper and 
astronomer at the Carl Sagan Center, SETI Institute, 
noticed a transit back in 2011, but more data and 
several years of analysis were needed to confirm that 
the transit was indeed caused by a circumbinary 
planet. A network of amateur astronomers in the 
KELT Follow-Up Network provided additional 
observations that helped the researchers estimate 
the planet’s mass.

 Kepler-1647b is 3,700 light-years away and 
approximately 4.4 billion years old, roughly the 
same age as the Earth. The stars are similar to the 
Sun, with one slightly larger than our home star and 
the other slightly smaller. The planet has a mass and 
radius nearly identical to that of Jupiter, making it 
the largest transiting circumbinary planet ever 

 “It’s a bit curious that this biggest planet took 
so long to confirm, since it is easier to find big 
planets than small ones,” said SDSU astronomer 
Jerome Orosz, another coauthor on the study. “It 
took so long to confirm because its orbital period 
is so long.”

` The planet takes 1,107 days (just over 3 years) 
to orbit its host stars, the longest period of any 
confirmed transiting exoplanet found so far. The 
planet is also much further away from its stars 
than any other circumbinary planet, breaking 
with the tendency for circumbinary planets to 
have close-in orbits. Interestingly, its orbit puts 
the planet within the so-called habitable zone. 
Like Jupiter, however, Kepler-1647b is a gas giant, 
making the planet unlikely to host life. Yet if the 
planet has large moons, they could potentially be 
suitable for life.

 “Habitability aside, Kepler-1647b is important 
because it is the tip of the iceberg of a theoretically 
predicted population of large, long-period 
circumbinary planets,” Welsh said.

 “It looks like more than 40% of circumbinary 
planets are in the habitable zones of their stars,” said 
Doyle. “It seems that the scene from Star Wars where 
Luke Skywalker is watching the double sunset may 
not be so rare after all. But physics might be more 
difficult—everything from shadows to rainbows 
would come in pairs!”

 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder


Throughout the year, many days of celebration are 
tucked capriciously into the calendar. So much 
so, it is hard to find any day of the year where 
something or someone is not being observed, 
which has benefited the greeting card company, 
you can be sure. I am not positive, but I think they 
have had a great deal to do with designating these 

 Some days are celebrated a little more 
enthusiastically than others. The Fourth of July 
has firecrackers; Halloween has funny and scary 
costumes, not to mention bags of candy; and 
Christmas boasts the Christmas tree and jolly 
old St. Nick with all his presents, and it is hard to 
compete with Christmas parties when it comes to 

 And we come to Mother’s Day. According 
to experts, more telephone calls are placed on 
Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. Also, 
try to walk into a restaurant and get a seat on that 
certain Sunday.

There is a theory, which I subscribe to personally, 
stating the reason Father’s Day is so lame is 
because so much has been spent on Mother’s Day, 
there is nothing left.

 I think there should be a rule that says, whatever 
Mother’s Day costs fathers, mothers should spend 
on Father’s Day. This would do one of two things; 
decrease Mother’s Day or puff Father’s Day 
spending. Personally, I am in favor of puffing.

Perhaps with some effort, Father’s Day could be 
a little more exciting. I am not saying this just 
because I am a father. Well, maybe I am, but if I 
don’t who will?

 Fathers in general are rather humble and 
hesitant to speak about themselves. Contrary 
to popular opinion, every father knows talk is 
not cheap, and because he has spent so much 
on Mother’s Day, he simply is practicing good 
manners and shuts up.

 However, every father needs to know he is truly 
appreciated by his family. Although you cannot 
buy a father, it is possible to rent him on occasion.

I am in favor of celebrating Father’s Day “any 
which way you can.” It really does not matter to 
the father involved. Any father would consider 
his child a “million dollar baby” if he or she 
would just give a Father’s Day card to him, along 
with a nice hot cup of coffee while sitting in his 
favorite chair reading the newspaper. Nothing the 
children did throughout the year would remain 
“unforgiven” if something this simple were done 
on Father’s Day.

 As it stands, Father’s Day is celebrated “every 
which way but loose,” and I believe it is time this 
has stopped. Too many loose ends concerning 
Father’s Day. It is a “true crime” the way certain 
things are left hanging concerning fathers. Some 
fathers have felt like “the dead pool” around 
Father’s Day, not knowing exactly what to expect.

Mother’s Day is rather simple. Every mother 
knows that she will get certain things; flowers, 
a Mother’s Day card and dinner at her favorite 

 By the time Father’s Day comes around 
everybody is so exhausted from Mother’s Day, not 
to mention most fathers are broke, nobody knows 
exactly how to make dad’s day special or, more 
importantly, who will finance it.

 Too many people are uptight about Father’s 
Day and feel like they are running “the gauntlet.” 
When I say people, I am referring primarily to 
Yours Truly. Nobody seems to know what to do 
about good ole dad on his special day.

 Fortunately, I have some ideas along this line.

 With some of the presents I have received over 
the years, I am beginning to think my children 
imagine me as a “space cowboy,” or maybe a “high 
plains drifter” driving around in a “pink Cadillac” 
heading for “the bridges of Madison County.”

 When it comes to being a father, I assure you 
I am not “the rookie” walking on a “tightrope,” 
directly “in the line of fire” running toward 
“heartbreak ridge.” I have quite a bit of experience 
being a father, going back more than 40 years.

 As a father, I have three children notched on my 
belt. At times, I have felt like “the enforcer” and 
the only way to deal with those children was to 
use “magnum force” and “hang ‘em high.”

 I must confess at times I felt like a “pale rider” 
sweating it out in the “city heat,” realizing no 
matter how hard I try it is not “a perfect world” 
we live in. What would make my day, and other 
fathers’ day, would be a present I could really use, 
or at least understand without spending an entire 
day reading the directions.

 In spite of all this, I have discovered one thing; 
being a father is its own reward. The Bible puts 
fatherhood high on the list of important positions 
in life.

 David, the Psalmist, put his feelings about 
being a father into familiar words to all who have 
read the Bible. “Lo, children are an heritage of the 
Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As 
arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are 
children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath 
his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, 
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” 
(Psalm 127:3-5 KJV.)

 This year, my advice is, whatever it costs, go 
ahead and make dad’s day. He deserves it.

 Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of 
God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. 
He lives with his wife in Ocala, FL. Call him at 
1-866-552-2543 or e-mail 
His web site is

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