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Kepler-186f: The First Earth-size Habitable Zone Planet of Another Star

The diagram compares the planets of our inner solar system to Kepler-186, a five-planet star system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The five planets of Kepler-186 orbit an M dwarf, a star that is is half the size and mass of the sun.  Image Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech Kepler-186 and the Solar System

Using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the “habitable zone” — the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

While planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, they are all at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth and understanding their makeup is challenging. Kepler-186f is more reminiscent of Earth.

“The discovery of Kepler-186f is a significant step toward finding worlds like our planet Earth,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s Astrophysics Division director at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Future NASA missions, like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, will discover the nearest rocky exoplanets and determine their composition and atmospheric conditions, continuing humankind’s quest to find truly Earth-like worlds.”

Although the size of Kepler-186f is known, its mass and composition are not. Previous research, however, suggests that a planet the size of Kepler-186f is likely to be rocky.

“We know of just one planet where life exists — Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth,” said Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper published today in the journal Science. “Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward.”

The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-186f , the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. Image Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech Kepler-186f, the first Earth-size Planet in the Habitable Zone

Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system, about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four companion planets, which orbit a star half the size and mass of our sun. The star is classified as an M dwarf, or red dwarf, a class of stars that makes up 70 percent of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

“M dwarfs are the most numerous stars,” said Quintana. “The first signs of other life in the galaxy may well come from planets orbiting an M dwarf.”

Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130-days and receives one-third the energy from its star that Earth gets from the sun, placing it nearer the outer edge of the habitable zone. On the surface of Kepler-186f, the brightness of its star at high noon is only as bright as our sun appears to us about an hour before sunset.

“Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has,” said Thomas Barclay, research scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames, and co-author of the paper. “Kepler-186f can be thought of as an Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth.”

The four companion planets, Kepler-186b, Kepler-186c, Kepler-186d, and Kepler-186e, whiz around their sun every four, seven, 13, and 22 days, respectively, making them too hot for life as we know it. These four inner planets all measure less than 1.5 times the size of Earth.

The next steps in the search for distant life include looking for true Earth-twins — Earth-size planets orbiting within the habitable zone of a sun-like star — and measuring the their chemical compositions. The Kepler Space Telescope, which simultaneously and continuously measured the brightness of more than 150,000 stars, is NASA’s first mission capable of detecting Earth-size planets around stars like our sun.

Ames is responsible for Kepler’s ground system development, mission operations, and science data analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA’s 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach.  The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

Twitter: @NASAKepler

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April Fool’s Day, Geek Style!

It’s that time again, where everyone tries to pull a prank or a joke. Here are our favorites from this year!


Google always does something fun on April 1.  This year, check out their new photo feature – David Hasselhoff photo bombs!

robiou 1-1















And Google map’s new feature to find the Pokemon Masters out there!


This year, Blizzard has released Outcast: Vengeance of the Vanquished! Or check out the awesome trailer below!


What started as innocent April Fool’s fake products has launched a whole new line for ThinkGeek – after the festivities are done, ThinkGeek has actually started making some of their products listed as jokes.  Check out ThinkGeek today, and tell us your favorite prank item.  We kind of love the Mr. Beard Beard Machine

What’s your favorite?

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SecretsCon Wrap Up

We had a great time at the first-ever SecretsCon.  We got to meet some great folks, and want to introduce you to our new friends!


Another great Atlanta convention!  Pre-register now at

Board games, card games, role-playing games, videos and general geekiness.

285365_112995195466480_3731691_nLegion the GameThe first of many great things to come out of Terminus Productions LLC, Legion is a futuristic look at humanity’s existence in a state of constant war against an ever expanding list of antagonists. You take the role of a Legion Solider, outfitted by the military in hi tech armor called Legion Suits you defend against the Shade, alien usurpers, and ancient forces returning from exile in the far reaches of the galaxy.
The Music of Dr. Mary Crowell

Jazzy geek with a Southern flair! Check her out and buy her albums!

profile_picture_by_everwho-d46qeohTalon Dunning, illustrator


A survivor of both Auburn University’s Fine Art school and White Wolf’s production intern program, Talon was the chief illustrator for the Ravenloft 3rd Edition Roleplaying Game and a regular in other Sword & Sorcery Studios projects as well as Mage The Awakening. He’s also done work for West End Games (D6, Star Wars, TORG Revised), Wizards of the Coast (Legend of the 5 Rings CCG, Star Wars RPG website), Kenzer & Co. (Kingdoms of Kalamar, Knights of the Dinner Table), Green Ronin (Mutants & Masterminds) as well as a host of other small-press RPG companies. And yes, that IS his real name.

Check out his fantastic artwork!

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Preparing for SecretsCon

In our ever-expanding small slice of geek, we are getting ready for SecretsCon, a new convention being held in Atlanta next weekend.  You can find their website here.

We’ll be setting up a vendor space, and have some progress photos of what we’re working on to share with you!  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for even more!

New Neckties!
New Neckties!

Bow ties!
Bow ties!






SecretsCon – March 28-30, 2014 at  the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center

There will be:

  • Board Games galore,  provided by ourselves and more importantly by some of the most diverse collectors we have ever had the honor to game with.
  • Collectible Card Games – both free play and tournament playsponsored by our friendly local game store partners (if that is you – please email us at for more details).
  • Role-Playing Games – several will be listed here as they schedule in.  Plenty of space for a good number of players, to be sure.
  • Panels on Game Design, Family Gaming, and how to share your hobby with friends.
  • Video Room with how-to and game reviews.
  • Vendor Space for a special gamer-focused dealer room.
  • AND LOTS MORE!  (We are still working lots of the plans but we will be adding the details here regularly.)

Be sure and get your tickets now!

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Going analog!

homegrown-decatur-transparent-logoOkay, not entirely analog, but we are working with Homegrown Decatur in Decatur GA to sell some of our things in a brick-and-mortar store!  We’re very excited about this!  If you’re in the Atlanta area, stop by to see not only our awesome stuff, but all the awesome stuff from local artists!  We’ll still be selling things in our Etsy store and going to conventions, so don’t worry if you’re not in Atlanta!

From their website:

HomeGrown Decatur, just off the square in lovely downtown Decatur, is a retail artist cooperative selling the work of 100 local artists and craftspeople.

We are fully artist-staffed, giving our visitors the opportunity to interact with the talented individuals that create our offerings.

From handcrafted jewelry and bath products to fine art pieces, pottery, glasswork and prints, we strive to have a little something for everybody. Recycled license plate belt buckle? Got it! Baby clothes and stuffed animals? Check! 3D wooden elephant sculpture to hang on your wall? Oh, yeah…

In the spirit of Stephen Colbert’s Truthiness and Tiger Woods’ Cablinasian, we describe ourselves as a Local Funk Artporium. Part funk, part art gallery, part gift emporium and all local, HomeGrown is all that and more! You really must experience us to appreciate it.

IMG_1406ABCWe opened in 2010 and have quickly grown from a community of 35 local artists and craftspeople to our current average of about 100. We were honored to receive a “Best of Atlanta” nod from the editors of Creative Loafing as “the Best Place to Meet the Maker” (since we’re fully artist staffed). Also, very exciting, we were featured in the June 2013 issue of “Southern Living” magazine!

All the buzz, thanks to the talent and creativity on display from our artists!

So, stop on by. Grab a soda out of the 1950’s graffiti refrigerator up front. Get your picture taken with the Shrine to Mr. T in the back. And find yourself something beautiful made right here, in our community, by one of HomeGrown’s 100 talented artists.

You can check them out online, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in person!  Join us in celebrating this exciting new milestone!

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SCARAB 2014!

1499523_650224921695312_2034536778_nAt this time next week, we’ll be packing up and putting the final touches on our inventory as we get ready to go to SCARAB!  This will be our first convention where we’re vendors, and we’re pretty pumped about it.  We’ll be selling things from our Etsy store, plus a secret SCARAB exclusive! There’s a Facebook event for those who are so inclined, or you can go to for more information.

This year, they are introducing a costume contest and an anime track!  So come by and visit us!  Maybe we’ll pack some costumes, and there are always games to be played!