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Belgian astronomers name alien planet after their favorite beer

Belgian astronomers name alien planet after their favorite beer

by JP Perkins

A year ago

Michael Gillon was chilling on his couch at home when he discovered the first TRAPPIST exoplanet CNN reports.

"I saw this drop in brightness, which was a clear indication that something had passed in front of the star," Gillon said. "My wife was already sleeping, my daughter was going to bed, and I said, 'hey, look! This is an Earth-sized planet.' She was not impressed at all because it was just a graphic."

Gillon's team of five Belgian scientists had discovered one of the most remarkable planetary systems -- and decided to name it after their favorite beer

"I was dreaming of one planet, so when we saw two, it was becoming crazy, three totally crazy and then in 2016 four, five ... wow. ... It was like some fantasy, some kind of dream," Gillon said. "It's like a cosmic joke."

Trappist beer bottles and exoplanet posters are proudly displayed inside team members' modest offices at the University of Liège. A small "control room" with four computers is used to monitor their telescopes thousands of miles away in Chile and Morocco.

The team went on to nickname each exoplanet after monastic Trappist beers, Rochefort, Orval and Westvleteren, a centuries old brewing style.

By Philip Rowlands (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Trappist Beer are beers specifically brewed by a Trappist Monastery brewhouse.  The Trappists, like many other religious orders, originally brewed beer to feed the community, in a perspective of self-sufficiency. Nowadays, Trappist breweries also brew beer to fund their works and charitable causes.  Today, eleven Trappist breweries are active — six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands, and one each in Austria, Italy and the United States.



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