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April Fool’s!

How cosmic surprises keep blowing our minds.
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Some areas of science advance in increments. We see slow evolutionary improvements in aeronautical engineering and medical discoveries. But astronomy is different. Here, the universe often leaps out and goes boo! So let’s use April Fool’s Day as our excuse to review the top 20 “pranks” the cosmos has sprung on us.

Start with Galileo. Since no one had pointed a telescope at the sky before, he was bound to get surprises. Nobody had foreseen lunar craters or moons going around other planets like Jupiter, as he observed. But when he looked at Saturn, he entered the Twilight Zone. On Earth, there’s no example of a ball surrounded by unattached rings. This was beyond human experience. No wonder it took two centuries for anyone to deduce that they’re neither solid nor gaseous, but made of separate moonlets. So our first April Fool’s prank? Saturn’s glorious rings.

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