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BBC Show Stargazing Live Leads To Exoplanet Discovery 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the comfort-of-your-own-home dept.
arnodf writes "Tonight BBC's show stargazing live ended after three days of live astronomy with comedian Dara Ó Briain and professor Brian Cox. Throughout the show they were trying to make the viewers help in finding an exoplanet via Zooniverse. Thanks to the program they managed to get 1,084,760 classifications in 48 hours and two volunteers discovered an exoplanet which now bears their name. From the planethunters website: 'Thanks to your help and BBC Stargazing, we managed 1,084,760 classifications in 48 hours. There's still more to do, and more discoveries to be made, so keep clicking!'"
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BBC Show Stargazing Live Leads To Exoplanet Discovery

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  • by wisebabo (638845) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @12:47AM (#38745334) Journal

    I thought that the names had to be approved by the IAU or something. (The summary says the planet found "now bears their name". Unless the IAU decided to name it after them I suspect they got to name it). Is the summary wrong?

    On the other hand, if the summary is correct, the chance for OFFICIALLY naming an entire world would be worth something! Who knows, maybe the exo-planet you named after yourself (or your firstborn, or your pet dog) could one day be determined to have life, maybe intelligent life! (Or maybe it'll just have cool double-sun sunsets or pretty rings).

    Couldn't NASA get a bit of funding from people who wanted to bid on the rights to name a world? (Unlike copyrights, aren't celestial bodies named FOREVER?).

    • Couldn't NASA get a bit of funding from people who wanted to bid on the rights to name a world? (Unlike copyrights, aren't celestial bodies named FOREVER?).

      No, it couldn't. NASA has nothing to do with naming planets. NASA is a US government agency. The US is one among many countries in the world. Funding such an agency of such a country through such a mechanism would come close to the "sell me a star" or "sell me an acre of moonscape" con trick.

    • Well, this one has several times the radius of Earth, and circles its host star in 90 days. If there is life, it might look like Pacman being played in a plate of boiling soup. Which is what we looked like some billion years ago.
    • On the other hand, if the summary is correct, the chance for OFFICIALLY naming an entire world would be worth something! Who knows, maybe the exo-planet you named after yourself (or your firstborn, or your pet dog) could one day be determined to have life, maybe intelligent life!

      Which opens some interesting prospects, such as tourists from Earth visiting said planet and the natives welcoming them cheerfully in the <insert-your-dog's-name-here> Visitor Center, with <insert-your-dog's-name-here> being present on most bilingual place signs all over the planet.

    • On the other hand, if the summary is correct, the chance for OFFICIALLY naming an entire world would be worth something! Who knows, maybe the exo-planet you named after yourself (or your firstborn, or your pet dog) could one day be determined to have life, maybe intelligent life!

      If there is intelligent life, there is most likely alraedy an official name for that planet.

    • I thought that the names had to be approved by the IAU or something.

      The IAU gives objects like that designations. They do not name them [iau.org] and have no plans to do so.

  • by RotateLeftByte (797477) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:25AM (#38745848)

    For those outside the UK, BBC2 broadcast them live at 20:00 for three evenings. The first two were fantastic as the skies were clear. LAstnight was pretty cloudy but the experiment where a whole town went 'dark' was amazing. It really showed how much light polltution there is.
    Part of the show came from the Uk and another segment came from South Africa. This latter one enabled us to see the milky Way in all its glory.

    Real kudos to the Beeb for putting this on at peak times.

    • by Xest (935314)

      It took over BBC HD which was nice too.

  • Bah (Score:3, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:25AM (#38745852)

    They were probably planted by the show's producers, to drive up ratings.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by zebidee (40430)
      Planting a whole planet just for ratings would be a bit excessive wouldn't it? ;)
    • Re:Bah (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:45AM (#38745916)

      Why the cynicism? The PlanetHunters site wasn't set up specifically for the show, it was a "citizen science" project running independently (and still is). Users of the site apparently tripled and worked on over a million images in 24 hours which is a pretty awesome amount of help from a three-night show, although I can't find a mention of what is "normal" traffic for the site.

      Besides, the show is over now, it was only on for three nights, so there are no more ratings to drive up.

      The Beeb have done this sort of thing before: as far as I remember during a documentary on climate changed they encouraged viewers to get involved with a BOINC weather analysis project. The difference there is that BOINC projects don't involve people actively examining the data themselves and it's very hard to separate out individual contributions.

  • Dara (Score:5, Informative)

    by MullerMn (526350) <<ku.oc.nobrawerdna> <ta> <ydna>> on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:54AM (#38745952) Homepage
    While describing Dara O'Briain as a comedian is accurate, it's worth nothing that he has a degree in mathematics and theoretical physics.. He's not just there for fart jokes.
    • There's the other one too. Him that isn't Rob Brydon. I'd tell you his actual name but ... curse you Wikipedia!

    • by arnodf (1310501)

      I admit I wasn't very accurate when writing the summary because in fact no exoplanet was discovered but major signs for one were. They still need to double check with the guys at Hawaii I think to confirm it.
      It was mentioned on the show that Dara has a degree in maths and physics but that's not what we know and love him for is it? :-)

  • What? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Alien 1 - What do they call it again?
    Alien 2 - Earth!

    Alien 1 - Why would they call it that? Its blue!
    Alien 2 - Our name for it - Krup - is so much meaningful and relevant.

    Alien 1 - Must be a bunch of nitwits living there.
    Alien 2 - Yup!

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @07:58AM (#38746752)

    You'd never get a commercial channel doing live astronomy for 3 nights. In fact they barely tough science at all these days except for the occasional Discovery channel funded sensationalist drivel on channel 5 ("OMG , tidal waves, asteroids, earthquakes, we're all gonna die!! - but find out how after the break" type stuff)

    This sort of program alone - almost - makes the license fee worth the money.

    • by Spad (470073) <slashdot @ s p a d . c o.uk> on Thursday January 19, 2012 @08:56AM (#38746940) Homepage

      A few weeks ago they aired an hour long show on a Sunday evening in which Prof Brian Cox gave a lecture on atomic structure, quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle and wave-particle duality to a bunch of celebrities. It was very edutaining, but can you imagine pitching that show to a commercial network?

    • by petes_PoV (912422)

      This sort of program alone - almost - makes the license fee worth the money.

      I guess you forgot the smiley-face.

      The "licence fee" (in reality a tax: collected under force of law and threat of punishment for non-payment if you own a TV) is £145 per year (about 220USD) and gifts the BBC about £3Bn annually. This pays for a series of 9 TV advertisement free channels and a whole slew of radio stations: both national and local.
      For £3 Bil, I'd expect a dam' sight more than 3 hours of astronomy every year - hell, I'd expect a direct feed from a dedicated space telescop

      • by Soruk (225361) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @11:05AM (#38747940) Homepage

        It would be interesting to see if a more fair and commercially balanced TV-scape would give rise to some healthy competition (instead of a scramble to stay alive) that would raise the quality, and maybe even the breadth, of programming across the board if all the broadcasters got a share of the licence fee and they all had to put up with the same commercial realities.

        Have you ever tried to watch American television?

        • by petes_PoV (912422)

          Have you ever tried to watch American television?

          Frequently - whenever I'm in the country. Have you ever wondered why so many of the successful/high-quality dramas on British TV are american imports?

          • by Viol8 (599362)

            And have you ever wondered how many are produced by pay TV companies such as HBO? I wonder why that is...

      • by Spad (470073)

        You only have to look at cable TV in the UK or the entire television setup in the US to see that the one thing you would definitely not get by defunding the BBC is a rise in quality.

      • by Jaruzel (804522)

        For accuracy, I think it's worth pointing out that Channel 4 get a teeny-weeny slice of the licence fee also.

      • by dave420 (699308)
        There is a lot more than 3 hours of astronomy per year - you are forgetting the slew of Horizons, Sky at Nights, and all the rest. Also the BBC is mandated to produce a certain amount of factual, educational TV, which commercial stations (bar Channel 4) are exempt from, letting them chase after the easy buck. But I digress.
    • Absolutely agree.

      I watched all 6 programmes (including the follow-up Star Gazing Live: Down To Earth) and was thankful that the BBC hasn't yet been destroyed by the Tories and their cronyism with the Murdoch Empire.

      Genuine public service broadcasting.

      From Wikipedia:

      [...] the mission of the Corporation is to "inform, educate and entertain". It states that the Corporation exists to serve the public interest and to promote its public purposes: sustaining citizenship and civil society, promoting education and l

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