In the hunt for planets around distant stars, the stars themselves are often the worst enemy. They're so bright that you rarely spot anything smaller than a gas giant, which isn't much help when you're trying to find habitable worlds. An alliance of American and Dutch researchers may have the ticket to locating Earth-like bodies, though. They've developed a new variety of coronagraph (a telescope filter that blocks starlight) powerful enough to give a much better view of the objects around stars, even when they're half as far from their hosts as Earth is to the Sun. The key is that it doesn't block light directly, like other coronagraphs -- it instead has the light waves cancel each other out, even in the infrared wavelengths where stars tend to blot out their orbiting companions.