Let me stick my head above

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.