Serendipitous Astronomy

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Science  01 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5961, pp. 39-40
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183653

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Four hundred years ago, Galileo Galilei turned his newly constructed spyglass to the skies, and thus began astronomers' use of novel telescopes to explore a universe that is invisible to the unaided eye. The search for the unseen has resulted in many important unexpected discoveries, including Jupiter's four large moons, the planet Uranus, the first asteroid Ceres, the large recession velocities of spiral nebulae, radio emission from the Milky Way, cosmic x-ray sources, gamma-ray bursts, radio pulsars, the binary pulsar with its signature of gravitational radiation, and the cosmic microwave background radiation. The observable universe is a modest part of a much vaster, undiscovered one that remains to be found, often in the least expected ways (1, 2).