You can check out the nearby star Proxima Centauri — which hosts a newly discovered, potentially Earth-like planet — during a free webcast by the Slooh Community Observatory tonight (Aug. 26).
The Slooh show features live telescope views of Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf that's the sun's nearest stellar neighbor at just 4.22 light-years away. You can watch the webcast at Slooh.com, beginning at 8 p.m. EDT tonight (0000 GMT on Aug. 27). It should run about 30 minutes. You can also watch the Proxima Centauri show at Space.com, courtesy of Slooh.
On Wednesday (Aug. 24), a team of astronomers announced the discovery of Proxima b, a roughly Earth-mass planet that resides in Proxima Centauri's "habitable zone," the range of distances at which liquid water could exist on a world's surface.
Discovery team member Michael Endl, from the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin, will join Slooh host Eric Edelman to discuss the find. Also participating is Lisa Kaltenegger, director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University in New York, who will discuss what Proxima b means for the search for alien life.
"It's amazing to watch that small, red dot live in the online telescopes every night and imagine the Earth-like world that we now know orbits the star," Slooh astronomer Paul Cox said in a statement. "With the possibility that liquid water exists on Proxima — who knows? — there may be some Centaurian amateur astronomers gazing back at us every night!"
While the Slooh webcast will provide good looks at Proxima Centauri, don't expect to see Proxima b; the planet is too small, and too close to its host star, to spot with current instruments. (However, the huge next-generation telescopes under construction in Chile and Hawaii should be able to do the job, astronomers have said.)
Viewers can ask questions and interact with the host and guests during the show by tweeting @Slooh or by joining in on the live chat on Slooh.com.