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Jun 06 2014

Found Him: Sauron’s Eye Spotted in Space

SPHERE images the dust ring around the star HR 4796AHow much more effective would Sauron have been at finding the Hobbits with his ring is he had an even higher vantage point? Say, if he were in space. Of course, maybe his eyesight isn’t quite that good so it would have hurt him more than helped him. It hasn’t stopped him from trying however. Astronomers recently found him.

This Eye of Sauron is the magnificent ringed star HR 4796A, in the southern constellation of Centaurus. It is one of the first images produced by SPHERE, the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research instrument, installed last month on the ESO’s Very Large Telescope atop Cerro Paranal in Chile.

I love the naming conventions in science these days. Like how acronyms don’t necessarily have to have the same letters as the words they are replacing. Or how sometimes they just give their equipment obvious, overly simplistic names. like the “Very Large Telescope.”

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