A reader sent me this lovely response to my earlier question about the significance of this latest planet being decidedly "farther out" than any other.
Posted by Lisa at July 23, 2003 12:24 PM | TrackBack
The main reason for having Hubble in space is that it is really hard to see through the atmosphere at certain wavelengths. As well, the farther away something is, the dimmer it appears to our telescopes... that's why we build bigger and bigger telescopes... to see farther and farther away.
How far away from Earth we place our telescopes will make little difference as to how far away our discoveries are... the space between stars is huge... not so with galaxies (relatively)... for example, if you could reduce our sun to the size of a basketball, the next closest star (also about the size of a basketball) would be in Hawaii (if the "Sun" is in the East Bay like me)... if you reduce our entire galaxy to the size of a basketball, the next closest galaxy would be in the next room! (this is also why galaxies seem to collide frequently (they're not too far apart)... but when they collide their stars don't hit each other... it's like two swarms of bees colliding)