NU Online News Service, March 24, 2005, 2:08 p.m. EST

Scientists have spotted the light of a distant planet using a telescope that shares the same name as a well-known state official.[@@]

A team of scientists led by David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass., has used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to detect infrared light reflected by a Jupiter-size planet orbiting the star Vega.

The telescope, which has been orbiting the Earth since August 2003, is named after Lyman Spitzer Jr., an astrophysicist who died in 1997, and not after New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Although the astrophysicist was a professor at Princeton University and the attorney general is a graduate of Princeton, Eliot Spitzer’s family is not aware of having any relationship with Lyman Spitzer’s family, according to a spokeswoman for Eliot Spitzer’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign.