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By taking part in this project you and your observations can contribute to real science and could possibly help discover new exoplanets!
Microlensing events are very rare because they rely on a chance alignment between a distant star and a closer star. Because of this we need to look at a part of the sky which has lots of stars to increase the chances of us catching these events. The highest concentration of stars in the sky is towards the bulge or centre of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. If the closer star has one or more planets, microlensing gives us a chance of detecting them (see What is a microlensing event? for more information).
The OGLE (Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment) and MOA (Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics) teams regularly produce a list of the potential candidates for exoplanets. It is a trimmed down version of the target list that we will be using for observing these events.
At present you will only be able to follow this method if you have registered to use the 2m telescopes in the LCOGT network, via Faulkes Telescope Project or Hawai'i outreach program. The Faulkes Telescope Project are only able to register education users from the UK.
Because the observations you make will be automatically analysed, you will need to take extra care to enter the name of the object exactly as it is written (upper case, with no spaces).
From the name you give your observation, the LCOGT archive will recognize that your observation is of a potential exoplanet, and automatically process the data. That is why it is extremely important you type the name correctly.
Once the data has been processed a data point will appear on the lightcurve for each of the observations you make. This can be as fast as 2-3 minutes after your observation has been completed.
You can find the lightcurve on the microlensing target list, by clicking on the thumbnail image in the last column which corresponds to the object you observed.
If the lightcurve shows any 'blips' or strange features, you may have contributed to the discovery of an extra-solar planet. If you need help, get in touch with us using our support email.
This observing programme will contribute to the observations made by professional astronomers of exoplanet candidates.
You will need to check if the objects you have selected are visible at the time of your booking.