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Believing that all stars must have planets, Father Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition February 17, 1600 in Campo de' Fiori in central Rome. Since then, nearly 300 extrasolar planets have been detected around solar-type stars. Humans have been speculating on the existence of worlds around other Suns for thousands of years, but there was no evidence that any existed until the first discovery was made in 1995. Some of these planets are large, about the size of Jupiter, very hot because of their proximity to the star, and orbit their parent stars every few days at a short distance. Because these "hot Jupiters" have such small orbits, there are a significant fraction of them crossing the disks of their parent stars, an event called a transit. These transits are likely enough, frequent enough, and obvious enough that ground-based transit searches made by experienced amateur astronomers can be succesful.

This is a group of mostly amateur astronomers that are searching for planets outside of our solar system by measuring the light from a star as a planet transits. This measurement requires a high degree of precision. Fair warning; this is an expensive hobby with a steep learning curve. As a member of this group, you are strongly encouraged to download and study Bruce Gary's book, Exoplanet Observing for Amateurs found in the links section.

Differential photometry experience is a prerequisite before attempting to hunt for planets. If you own a good NABG Monochrome CCD camera, an SCT or reflector or 10-inches or more, an accurate celestial pole drift aligned fork-mount, software such as MIRA AP, MaxImDL, CCDSoft, MPO Canopus AIP4Win and Microsoft Excel, and have as a minimum, a photometric V filter and have experience with lightcurves and analysis, you may be ready to capture shallow eclipses of well-known stars with exoplanets.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Carl Sagan

Group Information

  • 148
  • Astronomers
  • Dec 27, 2007
  • English

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