The last three nights saw the return to BBC2 of popular astronomy show Stargazing Live – presented by Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain. Hopefully it will become, at least, an annual fixture. [Image credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky]
If you’ve been paying attention you’ll have recognised some of the material – for example, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s images of the last footprints made by man on the Moon featured in programme 1, as did an interview with Captain Eugene Cernan who made them.
Black holes, and the massive one at the centre of our own galaxy, popped up in programme 2. [It's not as massive as this one! - Ed] Indeed. Here’s the up-to-date model of the Milky Way again. [Image credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC Caltech)].
Alongside the programmes they’ve been encouraging participation in a citizen science project – Planet Hunters.
And, as the BBC’s spaceman, Jonathan Amos notes, during the series run a new likely exoplanet candidate was identified. There were two individuals named on air as co-discoverers, but one seems to have vanished… ANYhoo, here’s the tell-tale signal from the data of the likely exoplanet transiting the star SPH10066540
It’s worth noting that the online data, originally collected by the Kepler mission, has already been checked by computer. And they have identified a few likely candidates. But the computers have also missed some. This is the fifth candidate Planet Hunters have found.
In all around 100,000 individual citizen scientists have classified over a million stars, and the work continues. It’s relatively straightforward, and you can spend as long, or as short, a time on it as you like.
So if you’ve got a few minutes to spare [*ahem* - Ed] why not try to find your own exoplanet.
In the meantime, because I can, here’s the wondrous night sky above the ESO Very Large Telescope array [VLT], in Chile. [Video credit: ESO/S. Guisard (www.eso.org/~sguisard) ESO/José Francisco Salgado (josefrancisco.org)]