Tuesday, April 28, 2009
One of the trends we have seen with amateur astronomers is how they contribute to real science. Brad Walter of Texas did exactly that on February 14, 2008 when he tracked the GJ436 Transit. Using a photometry filter and a Takahashi Mewlon 250, Brad captured the transit of a Neptune-like planet as it crossed in front of its own sun. The above graph shows the light curve of the star, demonstrating that something interrupted the star's magnitude: the transiting planet.
I've known Brad now for about 8 years. I first met him at the Texas Star Party, and continue to see him twice a year at both TSP and the Eldorado Star Party. He went from being a CCD imager to using his CCD camera knowledge for photometry and thus contributing to true astronomical science. What a neat accomplishment!
I look forward to the day when I have a remote observatory and can contribute to such activities.