Weeks 6 + 7: Astronomy at Home

May 12, 2023

Hello and welcome back to my blog! My on-site team is still waiting on the WASP-31 b data from the Las Cumbres Observatory so unfortunately, I don’t have any updates on that. The Tres-2 b analysis is also still underway as there was an issue with the EXOTIC software. However, I have been working hard on the independent research front these past two weeks. I’ve continued my Python lessons, focusing this week on splicing lists and dictionaries as well as how conditional statements work (i.e. if … then … statements). Check my week 5 blog for more information on the resources I’m using, because I would definitely recommend this textbook to those interested in learning coding for astronomy purposes. I have also begun the Yale course on the Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics, which covers the rapidly advancing field of extra-solar planets or exoplanets. The first lessons were basically a recap of my Physics of the Stars course and the relevant equations used in exoplanet research. Professor Bailyn discussed the history of planetary research to start then delved into Newton’s laws and Kepler’s laws. I found his analysis of how Newton interpreted and modified Kepler’s third law fascinating. Over week 7, I continued the lecture series and learned more about how astronomers apply math to discover certain qualities of the planets they research. Next week, I will work with Dr. Tanner to apply that math to my own light curves.

I also found a wonderful interactive exoplanet activity, where you can learn about how transits work with sample data and light curves with NASA’s Astronomy at Home organization. They guide you step by step through finding target and comparison stars and comparing the brightness of each star at different times of night.


Eventually, you compile enough data points to graph it. Here’s what mine looked like:

If you want to check it out, here is the link: https://afh.sonoma.edu/js9-exoplanet-activity/. Thank you for reading my blog!


  • Maren Willard

2 Replies to “Weeks 6 + 7: Astronomy at Home”

  1. Katey B. says:

    Wow amazing graph! How long did that take you to complete? – I am looking forward to hearing more about the data from the Las Cumbres Observatory!

  2. Maren W. says:

    This graph took about half an hour because I plotted most of the data points by hand. One of the great things about that simulation is that you can plot as many or as little points as you want to. The computer will analyze whatever you don’t complete since its all sample data that has already been confirmed.

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