NASA invites everyone to join the discovery of exoplanets

NASA invites everyone to join the study of exoplanets using the Exoplanet Watch program, available from mobile phones. First of all, the agency is interested in people with their own telescopes, but others can also join.

The starry sky. Source: NASA/Bill Dunford

Exoplanet Watch Program

The NASA Exoplanet Watch program is looking for scientists among ordinary people who are ready to join the search for exoplanets and the study of known ones. In order to join it, a computer or smartphone is enough.

The Exoplanet Watch program began operating back in 2018. But then access to it was quite limited. Most scientists working in any scientific institutions around the world can take part in it. Now, according to one of its authors, astrophysicist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Rob Zellem, they are ready to show a large number of people how the science of exoplanets is done.

To learn more about the program and join it, follow this link. First of all, the offer may be of interest to people who have powerful amateur telescopes. After all, they will be able to turn their hobby into serious scientific research and make a discovery on their own. Now everyone can upload their own data and analyze someone else’s.

However, people who don’t have their own telescope can also join Exoplanet Watch. The program has observational data from a small telescope south of Tucson in Arizona. In addition, data from two more tools will soon be added to it.

How can amateurs discover an exoplanet?

One of the most important methods of finding and tracking exoplanets today is transit. It is enough just to observe the star long enough and carefully enough to see how the planet closes it and its light decreases.

Of course, this is possible only for those stars in which the planet rotates in the same plane with the direction to Earth. But no additional instruments or powerful telescopes are needed for this.

Thanks to the transit method, it is possible to discover planets in tens or even hundreds of thousands of stars located relatively close to the Sun. Exoplanet Watch will teach how to do this to almost everyone who has a telescope.

The advantages of this system also consist in the possibility of cooperation. It often happens that the time of the eclipse of a star by an exoplanet exceeds the time of its observation in a certain area. Exoplanet Watch allows to “compose” together the results of two observations, obtaining a complete one from them. In this way, you can learn a lot about the diameter of the planet, its orbit and even the presence of moons.

According to

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