Exploring Exoplanets

Exploring Exoplanets: Detecting Transits with the RASC Robotic Telescope

Anyone with a Windows, Mac or Linux computer can learn how to image and analyze exoplanet transits in our newest course! Join us Wednesday nights from August 4 to September 1 to learn what makes a good exoplanet for us to image, image it and then find the exoplanet in the data. We'll even show you how to take the skills you learn and apply it to data provided by researchers. Become a citizen exoplanet hunter today!

All sessions will be recorded and made available for course attendees afterwards.

Course host: Jenna Hinds

Course dates: Wednesdays from August 4th to September 1st, 7:00 - 8:30pm EDT (with one session later in the evening)

Cost: $50 per person, maximum 30 people


Registration is now closed.






August 4, 2021
7:00 - 8:30pm EDT

All About Exoplanets

In our first session, we will go over what exoplanets actually are, how they have historically been detected and how we will be detecting them using the RASC Robotic Telescope. We'll go over knowing the limitations of the telescope you are using and how to choose a good exoplanet for your setup.

August 11, 2021
7:00 - 8:30pm EDT

Choosing Our Exoplanet

Today we will go through how to choose our exoplanet for this course. We'll look at all the factors that make an exoplanet transit a "good" candidate, including brightness of the host star, size of the exoplanet itself and how much of the transit we can see from our location. We'll look through available exoplanet transits for tonight and next week and you can choose which one you would like us to image. Finally, we'll show you how to program the telescope to image the transit we choose.

August 11 or 18, 2021
10:30pm - 12:00am EDT

Imaging Our Exoplanet

Tonight's the night! We will image an exoplanet of your choosing this week, which means that our meeting will be a bit later than usual. We'll show you how the telescope works, take a look at some fun targets and get our imaging run going. The next day, we'll send you the raw data from the run!

August 25, 2021
7:00 - 8:30pm EDT

Prepping the Data

Today we have a task that some may find a bit tedious but is very important to ensure we can actually detect the exoplanet transit. We need to calibrate, align and stabilize the data to make sure the computer can do its job of analysis in our next step. We'll go over the types of calibration frames and what we need to do with them in this session. If you have any trouble with calibration, we will send you our final calibrated, stabilized and aligned data so you can still join us in the last step.

September 1, 2021
7:00 - 8:30pm EDT

Finding our Exoplanet

We made it to our final and most exciting step! We'll be measuring the brightness of the host star to see if we can find a dip in brightness when the exoplanet passed in front of its star. Once we have that measurement, we'll show you how to submit results to scientific organizations so that our work can be used to more accurately predict exoplanet transits in the future. We'll also go over other work you can do with this newfound skill set.


Last modified: 
Friday, November 5, 2021 - 10:38am