Trust in gravity isn’t always the best astronomy policy

By Tom Siegfried, 12:45 PM May 20, 2014

Astronomers obsessed with solving the mysteries of dark matter or dark energy should remember: To make a great discovery, sometimes you need to know what you’re looking for.

Take Michel Lalande. He was recording star positions at an observatory in Paris for a celestial catalog compiled by his grandfather’s nephew, Jérôme Lalande. On May 8, 1795, Michel noted a star’s position; two days later he recorded the star again, but this time the position wasn’t quite the same. He concluded that he me...

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