March 14, 2009

An Amateur Astronomer and an Exoplanet Transit

Just before the end of Pi Day, I received an alert saying that an amateur astronomer has observed the exoplanet transit of XO-2b.
The thread can be found via cloudynights which starts with an enthusiastic "I think I saw an exoplanet!" and culminates with a much more proper remark "I saw an exoplanet transit!!!" along with the light curve being posted by the observer after a few rounds of data processing and calibrations.
This is great news for exoplanet enthusiasts who may someday jump into the Amateur Exoplanet Observing bandwagon.
A lot can be learned from this report and one of them is this list from TransitSearch which gives the predicted transit date and time for a large number of transiting exoplanets.
Someone has now reported this particular observation of XO-2b to the Exoplanet Transit Database (ETD) with credits to the observer named Tieman B.
Perhaps it will still be subjected to further verification, perhaps not.
Whichever is the case, I am getting more and more convinced that it is truly possible for amateur astronomers to observe exoplanet transits. And that amateurs will continue to contribute mightily to exoplanet research in the coming years.