In this activity, students explore the transit method of searching for planets. They plot graphs of light measurements from stars, searching for dimming that indicates the presence of a planet, and calculate its size.
By the end of this activity, students should be able to:
- understand the transit method for detecting extrasolar planets
- understand that, even though distant planets cannot be seen, their presence can be detected by their effect on something else
- use data to predict scientific outcomes
- work with other people to achieve a shared goal
- plot a line graph.
Download the Word file for:
- introduction/background notes
- what you need
- what to do
- student handouts.
Read the article Planet hunting.
Discover how intermediate school teacher Matt Boucher incorporated planet hunting into a unit on light.
Check out a timeline explaining the history of planet hunting – from the discovery of the Solar System's outermost planets to extrasolar planets.