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My first exoplanet measurement


Dr. Gerold Holtkamp, 2018.01.30


418 years ago (1600 AD) Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake by the Holy Inquisition of the Catholic Church. He had claimed that many other stars have planets orbiting them, just like our sun. That was blasphemy.


Just 29 years ago (1989 AD) the first planet orbiting another star was detected. Since then, several thousand so-called exoplanets have been detected using very complex, mostly satellite-based methods. Advances in observational and computer technology made it possible. It also makes it possible for amateurs like me to understand this leap in knowledge in astronomy.


A few weeks ago, on Jan. 14, 2018 AD, I myself detected an exoplanet for the first time with the Cassegrain telescope of the observatory of the Natural Science Association. The so-called transit method was used, in which the darkening of a star is measured. For this, the planet to be detected must pass exactly between us on Earth and the star. That was the case on the night of January 14th to 15th. The transit took about three hours. It was the star HAT-P-32 in the constellation Andromeda. However, the star, which is already very faint with a magnitude of 11.3, only loses about 3% of its light intensity during the occultation, which makes observation very difficult.



Measured relative brightness versus time, the so-called light curve



Technical data:
Telescope: Cassegrain, 60 cm, 7460 mm focal length
Camera: Canon EOS 6D
Exposure time: 20 s each
Sensitivity: ISO 1600
Noise reduction: automatic
Air temperature: approx. -2° C


This "premier" was only the "first try". Certainly improvements can still be made in the observation technique. But it is as it always is: the first time is the most beautiful!


Source: Stellarium