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Exoplanets

At its Council meeting on 2018 September 5 the British Astronomical Association gave the go-ahead to what promises to be an exciting new venture. An Exoplanet Division will be formed as part of the Asteroid and Remote Planets Section (ARPS), whose Director is Dr Richard Miles, with Roger Dymock as Assistant Director (Exoplanets) who joins the other ARPS Assistant Directors; Peter Birtwhistle (Astrometry) and Tim Haymes (Occultations).

Exoplanet transit light-curveThe immediate priority is to concentrate on transit observations – imaging the passage of an exoplanet in front of its host star. Within that activity we would hope to cater for beginners through to experienced imagers and be able to fully analyse the results obtained. We want to appeal to a broad audience by including activities not included in traditional BAA sections.

Longer term it is planned to widen our brief to include:
- Gravitational microlensing follow-up
- Radial velocity measurements using spectroscopy
- Participation in pro-am projects - for example-
   - Atmospheric Remote Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (ARIEL)
   - Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
   - Planetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars (PLATO)
- Involvement in Project Argus which uses amateur radio telescopes to look for signs of extra-terrestrial intelligence
- An understanding of astrobiology, by way of on-line courses, because searching for extra-terrestrial life is THE objective of exoplanet research
- Encouraging participation in Citizen Science on-line analysis of transit light curves to search for exoplanets. It is important that we offer something to those unable for whatever reason to participate in actual imaging. There are two Citizen Science websites which provide. transit light curves for analysis enabling users to search for exoplanets - Planet Hunters and Exoplanet Explorers.
- Participating in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence via the SETI@Home project which uses home computers to scan data from professional radio telescopes
- Space – progress in manned spaceflight and why we need to leave Earth and become a multi-planet species
- Building a knowledge base; keeping up to date on exoplanets in general, awareness of imaging and analysis techniques, knowledge of ground and space-based observatories and technology, availability of on-line courses, attendance at relevant meetings
- Establishing links with related organisations such as;
- UK Exoplanet Community
- Centre for Exoplanet Science
- UK Centre for Astrobiology
- Planetary Society
- British Interplanetary Society
- SETI Institute

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