Watch: How to Detect an Exoplanet with Your Own Digital Camera

Monday, 15 December 2014 - 12:21PM
Astronomy
Technology
Monday, 15 December 2014 - 12:21PM
Watch: How to Detect an Exoplanet with Your Own Digital Camera

"You don't need a high-powered telescope to spot the signature of an alien world," writes amateur astronomer David Schneider to accompany his DIY video, "How to Detect an Exoplanet with a DSLR": 

 

 

In this video, Schneider explains how to detect the signature of a planet outside of our solar system using only relatively normal household equipment and at virtually no cost. He already knew that it was possible to detect the brightness of an exoplanet using a telephoto lens on a digital camera, but the primary obstacle is capturing the exoplanet at the right location and at the right moment. Instead of buying a commercial star tracker, which would have cost several hundred dollars, Schneider bootlegged a "barn door tracker," which he described to IEEE Spectrum as "essentially two pieces of plywood hinged together." He completed his device, as shown above, using rudimentary, everyday materials such as gears from an inkjet printer and a plain wooden platform.

 

Exoplanet Detector

[Credit: David Schneider]

 

After weeks of searching for an opportunity, Schneider was finally able to capture images of an exoplanet in star system HD 189733 during a three-hour window on a particularly clear night.

 

Exoplanet Detector

[Credit: David Schneider]

 

Exoplanet Detector

[Credit: David Schneider]

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