28 Nov '14, 8pm

DIY Exoplanet Detector

Photo: David Schneider Star Track: The rotation of the Earth causes stars to continuously shift position in the sky. Detecting the subtle signs of the existence of an orbiting exoplanet requires compensating for this shift. To do that, I built my own hinged “barn door” tracker. Since 1995, when astronomers announced the discovery of a planet orbiting the star 51 Pegasi, exoplanets—which orbit stars other than the sun—have been a hot topic. I knew that dedicated amateurs could detect some of these exoplanets, but I thought it required expensive telescopes. Then I stumbled on the website of the KELT-North project at Ohio State University, in Columbus. The project’s astronomers find exoplanets not with a giant telescope but by combining a charge-coupled-device (CCD) detector with a Mamiya-Sekor lens originally designed for high-end cameras. That got me wondering: Might I be a...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/geek-life/hands-on/diy-exoplanet...

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