You can now hunt for extrasolar planets!
Solar Voyager : Current Events in Space Exploration

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  EDG1

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Esoteric Dreamer
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Joined: 2010-August-16
Location: Canada
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Posted: 2010-December-16 at 11:30pm | IP Logged Quote EDG1

http://www.planethunters.org

This is another of the "citizen science" sites, like Galaxy Zoo (where participants identify galaxies from images) and Moon Zoo (where participants identify and catalogue craters on the moon) - it literally just went online a few hours ago. This time, you're looking through Kepler science data looking for tell-tale dips in brightness caused by planets transiting across the face of the target stars! (the Kepler spacecraft basically stares at a fixed point in the sky containing hundreds of thousands of stars, and it monitors the brightness of all of them, looking out for dips caused by transiting planets).

They're still ironing out the kinks in their discussion forums, but the planet-searching part is working fine. It does take a while to get used to the brightness graphs, but you get the hang of it eventually. I've already found a couple of known transiting planets (it tells you whether it's a "Kepler Favourite" or not, which presumably means it's a known planetary system), correctly identified a simulated planet around a giant star (they throw some simulated data in occasionally to check that you're finding things properly!), and I might actually have found a planet orbiting an actual giant star (can't tell until I discuss it with others though!).

It's pretty damn awesome. I think this is the most exciting "Citizen Science" project by far and it's free to sign up, so give it a go!


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  JKelly

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Planetary Explorer
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Joined: 2010-February-13
Location: United States
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Posted: 2010-December-17 at 12:24pm | IP Logged Quote JKelly

Awesome!! Thanks for sharing. I'm excited to try it out sometime soon here.


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  Augustus

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Planetary Explorer
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Joined: 2010-August-10
Location: United States
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Posted: 2010-December-17 at 3:22pm | IP Logged Quote Augustus

This is so awesome. I made an account and classified a
few - some stars look like they have an absurd amount
of transits and I worry I'm doing more harm than good
cause I don't know whether to mark them or not
still, really awesome website - thanks for sharing!
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  regulus

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Celestial Watchman
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Joined: 2005-August-25
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Posted: 2010-December-19 at 1:54am | IP Logged Quote regulus

That's really cool!! I have been waiting for something like this to come along

Just so everyone knows: if you already have an account at one of the other connected sites, like Galaxy Zoo, then your login information is good at the new site too


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