Hello, exoplanet hunter! Ready to find some planets?!
First time observing a distant planet orbiting around its sun? Read this page to master your Unistellar telescope and join our team of Exoplaneteers.
1. Select your mission
A transit of an exoplanet is a unique event to record. To catch this moment you often need to be in a specific region on Earth. First, select a mission near your location by going to our Pick Your Target page. The highest priority exoplanets will be highlighted there and have specific instructions. If you would like to observe one of our other nightly targets, select a transit from the table after picking your region. To find out if you can observe the exoplanet transit, scroll and zoom the map to your approximate location. If there is a map symbol nearby, 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 brief tracking difficulty due to the high altitude of the target star.
- Orange diamonds = you may miss the start or end of the event but your data will still be useful.
2. Read the prediction
Once you have selected a scientific mission based on your location, you need to access the observation details :
- the observation “link”
- the date & time of the event
- the coordinates of the star
- the recording parameters
All of these parameters are listed on the Pick Your Target page. You will need these to observe the transit.
Based on the example above :
- Local date of the event : 22 July at UTC 22:31
- Coordinate RA (right ascension): 19h 27m 29s
- Coordinate Dec (declination): +25° 27’ 12’’
- Recording parameters: 3790ms, 37 dB and 3970ms
- Duration (End time minus Start time): 04h12m
These parameters are also saved in a “Deep Link” that you can use to automatically set up the Unistellar app for the observation. It is the row’s first icon on the left, illustrated by a phone.
Once your Unistellar telescope is set up to observe the night sky with a level tripod and orientation complete, you can use the scientific mode of the Unistellar App.
1. 10 minutes before the transit
It is time to point to your target. Two options:
A. Deep Link method: The quickest and preferred 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 the target coordinates and camera 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 from the target table 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
Note that for the Record duration, you can enter the total duration to record the full event in one observation or you can enter a shorter duration and record several short observations with a new Goto before each one. The second scenario will ensure the target stays in the telescope’s view but requires more of your attention.
At the start time, click on the Record button to start the observation. During the observation, you can see the target star but the transit will not be visible.
3. Complete observation
Once the recording is over, click on Continue to perform a “sensor calibration”. This calibration step gathers Dark Frames, which will help us better analyze your observation’s images. You must put the dust cap on your telescope before recording the calibration.
After this step, a final message appears: “Recording complete”. The mission is over.
1. Share your data
Once you are at home, please upload your data to our server. Do this by connecting to your telescope with the Unistellar App, opening its Settings > My eVscope tab, and clicking on “Upload”. Our team of scientists will analyze your observation to check if you detected the transit and send you the result.
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.
You can still be part of UNITE even if you don’t have a Unistellar telescope! Here’s how:
- If you have a different telescope + camera setup capable of recording images, our target predictions also apply to you! We invite you to observe them with us; however, we cannot process your data. For how to do that yourself, we recommend you visit the NASA Exoplanet Watch website. You might also want to check out the TESS Follow-up Observing Program and American Association of Variable Star Observers, with whom we collaborate.
- If you don’t have an imaging telescope:
- Check in monthly with our Results page for updates on our priority exoplanet targets
- Email email@example.com requesting to join the UNITE mailing list for 2023
- Community College students, professors, and friends: Ask if your college has a Unistellar telescope through the Unistellar College Astronomy Network (UCAN). If not, have the college’s astronomy professor contact UCAN’s director, Tom Esposito <firstname.lastname@example.org>, to inquire about joining.
- Check out some of the other exciting citizen science projects supported by NASA!