They Can See Clearly Now

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VENICE, Italy: A celestial map unveiled by the European Space Agency appears to be so accurate that it is moving astronomers to reevaluate the size and age of the universe. The map, made from data received from the agency's Hipparcos satellite, has led scientists to speculate that the cosmos is older and perhaps 10 to 15 percent larger than previously believed. This possibility may help explain why some stars in the heavens appear older than the universe itself. To produce the celestial plan, know as the Hipparcos Catalog, the satellite studied the positions and movements of thousands of stars over an eight-year period beginning in 1989. After extensive analysis of the data, scientists produced a three dimensional map so exact that it is considered 100 times more precise than any previous celestial survey. The discoveries are just beginning, scientists say. With such an accurate map in hand, some of the most elusive mysteries about the universe may yield themselves to resolution.