Add to collection
  • + Create new collection
  • 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.

    Related content

    Read the article Planet hunting to discover more about the different ways scientists search for planets.

    Find out more about the transit method and help scientists identify exoplanets by joining the citizen science projects Planet Hunters and Agent Exoplanet.

    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.

    In Hunting galaxies far far away – here’s how anyone can explore the universe astronomer Dr Sara Webb talks about her fascination with distant galaxies and provides information on some great online tools that can be used to look at our universe through the eyes of many different telescopes.

      Published 1 April 2009, Updated 27 April 2021 Referencing Hub articles
          Go to full glossary
          Download all