From the June 2004 issue

Do-it-yourself exoplanet searching

Advanced backyard astronomers can help discover planets.
By | Published: June 28, 2004 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Extrasolar Planet in M4
A planet recently identified near the core of the globular cluster M4 would have a star-filled sky. The planet orbits a white dwarf and a millisecond pulsar called PSR B1620-26, shown near the bottom of the picture.
NASA / G. Bacon (STScI)
June 28, 2004
Most extrasolar planetary searches are carried out using professional telescopes and instruments, many of them working at the “bleeding edge” of what’s technically possible. But some kinds of searches lie within the grasp of advanced backyard astronomers — for example, monitoring stars for minute drops in brightness caused by a planet crossing the star’s face. One such project is named Transit Search. It was profiled (“Join the hunt”) in Astronomy for January 2003.

This is no project for the casual skywatcher. It requires a telescope, CCD camera, a good computer, and software capable of detecting brightness changes of less than 1 percent.