Ella – April 30, 2018

I have always been a lover of learning. I would still be in college and have countless degrees if higher education weren’t so expensive. Whether I am rediscovering information while helping teach my children or reading the news, being a lifelong learner has always been a passion.

It is one of the reasons I have always loved visiting The Danish Home, which often has visiting speakers and outings, and I admire residents’ quest to continue to learn. One recent outing was a trip to Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, where residents and staff enjoyed learning new information and revisiting the history of our space program.

Residents at The Danish Home had a wonderful time at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium on April 12.

The residents of Danish Home of Chicago weren’t the only ones on an exploratory mission. As it turns out, one of the more recent discoveries in space came from a Danish student.

Andrew Mayo, a Ph.D. student at the Technical University of Denmark discovered 95 new exoplanets earlier this year. An exoplanet is a planet that orbits around a star other than the sun.

The use of more powerful telescopes and newer technology have made discoveries like this possible. Apparently, many exoplanets have been found since the 1990s. This revelation by Mayo and other Ph.D. students came from studying images from the Kepler telescope, bringing the total number of planets identified with this technology to just more than 300.

What makes this new discovery by the Danish students so interesting, however, is that these exoplanets were found in a new region that hadn’t been explored before. What many of the star gazers are looking for is evidence of life beyond Earth. Although these exoplanets are not in the habitable zone, every discovery provides new information, bringing scientists a step closer to learning something new about space that wasn’t previously known.

I love that while the Danes are studying space, space is also getting a better look at Denmark with images of the country taken by NASA from outer space. Also fascinating to me is how all Scandinavian countries, including Denmark, are positioned in relation to the sun throughout the seasons.

While Danes are discovering new planets, NASA is taking photos of Denmark from space.

As the country nears summer, the days are longer there, just like they are here. But Denmark’s light and dark phases are even more extreme than ours, which feels hard to believe as the cold days dragged through April. Denmark’s sunrise can be as early as 3:30 a.m., with sunset as late as 10 p.m.!

In contrast, it was surprising to learn that so much of their days are dark, with daylight only between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. during the winter. This makes the fact that countries like Denmark and Finland are regularly on the list of the happiest countries on earth even more impressive, considering the absence of sunlight and temperatures between 0 and 2 degrees in winter.

I may not fully understand the refractors on a telescope or how, when looking into all there is in space, one would even know if they were seeing something new, like an exoplanet. But it does excite me to know that the country of my heritage continues to be on the cutting edge, with so many inventions and discoveries, and that maybe someday if I am a resident at The Danish Home, I too may be learning wonderful new things.