Citizen Science in Exoplanet Exploration: Join Dr. Zellem's Project!
Dr. Robert Zellem is a distinguished exoplanet astronomer working at JPL NASA in Pasadena, California. He manages a project called Exoplanet Watch, a collaboration between professionals and amateur astronomers to observe exoplanets outside of our solar system, and he encourages you to join a team of researchers and become a citizen scientist.
Dr. Zellman describes Exoplanet Watch on the 135th Global Star Party
The project aims to utilize the transit method, where a planet passes in front of a star, causing the star's light to dim. This allows the study of the existence and characteristics of exoplanets. The method is applicable with amateur ground-based telescopes, even a smaller aperture instrument of 4-inches or larger, including models like Explore Scientific's Air-Spaced Doublets and ED Triplets and the Unistellar Smart Scopes. These telescopes can gather precise timing data, optimizing the use of space telescopes such as Hubble, James Webb, and the upcoming Ariel mission.
Exoplanet Watch is a NASA-funded citizen science project with goals of efficient telescope use, the discovery and confirmation of new exoplanets, monitoring stellar variability, and public education about exoplanet science. Participants can join by using their own telescopes or accessing archival data from the Micro Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. Amateur astronomers in global teams collaborate for exoplanet transits with long periods, impossible for a single observatory to capture. Additionally, amateurs save many hours that might have been devoted to expensive space telescopes, offering an economical solution to exoplanet research.
Becoming a citizen scientist with Exoplanet Watch is achievable in one afternoon for beginners. You'll set up an account on the AAVSO where your data results will be stored. We tested this process ourselves and can confirm that setting up an account and having a dataset ready for analysis takes only minutes. If you obtain useful results for the first time supplying data, your name will appear as a co-author on a science paper. How cool is that?
To learn more about Exoplanet Watch and sign up go to: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/exoplanet-watch/about-exoplanet-watch/overview/
To create a free account on the AAVSO go to: https://www.aavso.org/user/69413/edit