Let me stick my head above

Forums Exoplanets BAA Council response to Exoplanet Section proposal Let me stick my head above

Dr Paul Leyland

Let me stick my head above the parapet and apologize for not contributing earlier.  Fortunately (!) I have been very busy of late.

The reason I was busy last week is that I purchased a house and observatory on La Palma on Wednesday.  It has a 0.4m Cassegrain, of excellent optical camera, tip/filt adaptive optics which keeps a star image on a single pixel (the plate scale is 0.75 arcsec/pixel) and a SBIG-8 CCD.  I’ve not had chance to use it seriously yet but the previous owner managed 2 millimag photometry.  La Palma is famous for having clear skies and superb seeing.  Incidentally, Kevin Hills has comparable equipment on the same site and I have been working with him and Phil Charles performing ~2mmag photometry on the optical counterpart of an X-ray black-hole transient.

I’ve been busy all day today attending the Exoplanet-II conference in Cambridge — https://www.exoplanetscience2.org/programme .  After only 1 day of presentations (out of 4.5) several indicated that amateurs can do bleeding-edge research on exoplanets.  Although most spectroscopy is done with 2-10 metre-class telescopes, professionals often use 0.4 — 0.6m scopes for photometry because it is so much easier to get time on them.  One speaker presented results from a 0.2m telescope.

I very much intend to work on exoplanets, whether or not a section is created.  Needless to say,  I strongly recommend an exoplanet section be created.