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Apart from the Sun, the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn are the most starlike things in our immediate neighbourhood. Exploring them has taught us much about the origins of the Solar System.

Astronomers have recently begun to detect other gas giant-sized planets in orbit round other stars. They have also begun to observe young stellar objects and newly forming planetary systems. Our understanding of the formation of stars and planets is developing apace.

In 2007, we are on the threshold of an exciting new phase of astronomical research. Astronomers are creating the tools to discover the properties of other planetary systems and even the surfaces and atmospheres of their planets.

When creating this presentation my aims were to:

  1. Stimulate wonder about the universe we live in. After close examination by remote spacecraft missions, the Jupiter and Saturn Gas Giant systems have proved to contain marvellously complex, completely unexpected, very different, exciting other worlds. We have recently discovered that they are just other instances of large planets in orbit round their own stars.
  2. Provide some detail of how we learn about other worlds and their origins.
  3. Indicate, by delving in and displaying selected samples, the voluminous amounts of information that astronomers freely make available to the general public.

The file Notes.pdf is a set of notes relating to these web pages.

Michael Gallagher
6th June 2007