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Open Source Photometry Code Allows Amateur Astronomers To Detect Exoplanets 38

Posted by timothy
from the just-claim-everything-you-wave-your-arms-at dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Have access to a telescope with a CCD? Now you can make your very own exoplanet transit curves. Brett Morris, a student from the University of Maryland, has written an open source photometry application known as Oscaar. In a recent NASA Press Release, Morris writes: "The purpose of a differential photometry code – the differential part – is to compare the changes in brightness of one star to another nearby. That way you can remove changes in stellar brightness due to the Earth's atmosphere. Our program measures the brightness change of all the stars in the telescope's field of view simultaneously, so you can pull out the change in brightness that you see from the planet-hosting star due to the transit event." The program opens up exoplanet-observing to amateur astronomers and undergraduate students across the globe."
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Open Source Photometry Code Allows Amateur Astronomers To Detect Exoplanets

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  • by FridayBob (619244) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @11:57AM (#44766435) Homepage
    Thousands more exoplanets coming your way! Good news indeed.
    • by Ken_g6 (775014)

      Thousands more exoplanets coming your way! Good news indeed.

      I don't want even one exoplanet coming my way! I want them to stay in their own solar systems where they belong!

      • by xevioso (598654)
        This is very important. We truly do not want any rogue exoplanets heading towards us.
      • Thousands more exoplanets coming your way! Good news indeed.

        I don't want even one exoplanet coming my way! I want them to stay in their own solar systems where they belong!

        Bonus point for reading with precision... ;-)

        Tools like this combined with GPS time synchronized continent wide synthetic
        aperture images could open new astronomy doors and windows of discovery.

        As it is today exoplanets tell us little just as the discovery of the Higs tells us
        commoners little.

        Way back when science was the purview of the idle and the rich. With the modern
        views of global economy many will be idle and many will be able to contribute
        to science (seismic, weather, climate, astronomy, pollution,

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Thousands of exoplanet candidates. Most amateur telescopes are way too weak to provide conclusive evidence.

  • While any open source contribution is welcome this seems somewhat narrow in scope. There are several, more general purpose applications already available at little or no marginal extra cost that could be used for this type of analysis. Many of these applications, even if not open source, allow for third party additions. If you own a photometer it'll already come with software for data reduction. If you own a telescope w/a CCD camera chances are you'll already be using a program such as MaxIm DL for camera/m
    • by mrsquid0 (1335303)

      IRAF has a very steep (and unforgiving) learning curve, and thus tends to be beyond most non-technical types. And the technical types are migrating to Pyraf.

  • by Sperbels (1008585) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @02:37PM (#44767809)

    The program opens up exoplanet-observing to amateur astronomers and undergraduate students across the globe."

    Yeah, but don't those with small telescopes just run into the same problem that asteroid observers have? New systems like Pan-STARRS with gigantic field of views and resolution can scan the whole sky very quickly and then a computer can simply analyze the superior data and come up with more numerous and more accurate discoveries...drowning out the discoveries from amateurs.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The program opens up exoplanet-observing to amateur astronomers and undergraduate students across the globe."

      Yeah, but don't those with small telescopes just run into the same problem that asteroid observers have? New systems like Pan-STARRS with gigantic field of views and resolution can scan the whole sky very quickly and then a computer can simply analyze the superior data and come up with more numerous and more accurate discoveries...drowning out the discoveries from amateurs.

      Individual comet hunters still regularly make discoveries despite the existence of large-scale automated searches. The sky is a very big place and there are an awful lot of stars to monitor.

      • by Sperbels (1008585)
        That's only because comet discoveries are typically made near the sun, where it doesn't makes sense to the large searches to look.

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