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Garage-Built Scope Finds a Hot Jupiter

Sky and Telescope reports that a team of amateur and professional astronomers, using a network of off-the-shelf hardware (including a 4-inch Schmidt telescope assembled in the team co-leader's garage), identified a new extra-solar planet. It's a so-called "hot Jupiter" -- a massive gas planet orbiting closer to its star than Mercury does to the Sun. Most of the extra-solar planets discovered thus far have been of this type, as the current best method for spotting planets outside our solar system involves watching a star for rhythmic perturbations. Massive planets very close to their parent stars are far and away the most likely to show up this way. Still, we've mentioned the possibility of amateur astronomers making important discoveries by linking equipment before, and it's good to see the scenario play out. More info on amateur astronomers looking for extrasolar planets can be found at TransitSearch.org.


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