Tutorial to become a Planet Hunter
First time observing a distant planet orbiting around its sun? Read this page to master your Unistellar telescope and join our team of Planet Hunters.
1. Select your mission
A transit of an exoplanet is a unique event to record. To catch this moment you need to be in a specific location on Earth. First, you have to select a mission near your location. Go to our Exoplanet Prediction Page and select a transit you want to observe. To find out if you can observe the exoplanet transit, simply zoom by scrolling on the map. If you are near any location with a symbol, you are qualified for the scientific mission!
Each symbol has a meaning:
- Blue stars & shading = you can observe the entire event.
- Yellow triangles = you can observe the entire event but you may have tracking difficulty due to the altitude of the star.
- Orange diamonds = you may miss the start or end of the event.
2. Read the prediction
Once you have selected a scientific mission based on your location, you need to access the observation details : the time of the event, the coordinates of the star and the recording parameters of the telescope. You will need them to observe the transit.
Based on the example above :
- Local date of the event : 22 July at 23:31
- Coordinate RA: 19h 27m 29s
- Coordinate Dec: +25° 27 12’’
- Recording parameters: 3970ms, 37dB, and 3970ms
- Duration (End time – Start time) : 04h12min00s
All these parameters are also saved in a Deep Link that you can use 15 minutes before your observation. It is the first icon of the row, illustrated by a phone.
Once your Unistellar telescope is set to observe the night sky, you can use the scientific mode of the Unistellar App.
1. 10 minutes before the mission
It is time to point to your target. Two options:
A. Deep Link method: The quickest way to find your target is to use your smartphone to click on the Deep Link associated with your event. It will automatically open the Exoplanet transits tab of your Unistellar App and fill up coordinates of the target and its recording parameters. When the Right Ascension box and Declination box are filled with the correct coordinates, click on Goto to point to your target. Once Goto is done, if the Record duration, Exposure time, Cadence, and Gain are correct, you can click on Save.
B. Manual method: Open your Unistellar App, click on the Science menu and select the Exoplanet transits tab. Enter the Right Ascension and Declination and click on Goto to point to your target. Once Goto is done, enter the Record duration, Exposure time, Cadence, and Gain – then click on Save.
2. Launch observation
At the start time, click on the Record button to start the observation. During the observation, you may see the asteroid moving. Once the observation is over, you will see a final message appear: “Recording complete”.
1. Share your data
Once you are at home, please upload your data to our server. Our team of scientists will analyze your observation to check if you detected the occultation. If you need help, please read these guidelines on “how to upload my data”.
2. Tell Unistellar you participated
To make sure your contribution is properly processed and you are credited for the result, always fill out this Exoplanets Observation Report. It asks for your name, the serial number of your telescope, and the name of the scientific mission you just accomplished.
We will send you the result of your scientific mission through our Slack communication platform within 24 hours.
Great Work, Citizen Astronomer.