Exoplanets in Astronomy

In Crafting the Cosmos, we talked about exoplanets, and how we can study planets that pass in front of their stars by measuring their stars' brightness over time, and how we might someday soon try to study the atmosphere of a habitable exoplanet. Click here for slides.

Light Meters for Measuring Brightness

We made some single-pixel light sensors, using LEDs and cheap multimeters. They use the same principle that astronomers use to discover and characterize exoplanets, although the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (currently under construction at MIT) will be able to observe millions of stars at once. The light meter instructions are fairly simple.

Collecting More Light with Telescopes

Telescopes allow astronomers to make more precise measurements by collecting more light. We put our light meters behind little paper telescopes, to increase their sensitivity. Some of these telescopes were real works of art!


Some additional resources to explore:

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