My heart and best wishes go out to you and to your families during the COVID-19 global crisis. I have been very busy adjusting to this new way of life in quarantine and social distancing to do my part in “flattening the curve” and staying safe, as I’m sure many of you also have.
In addition to being a PhD student, I also teach high school physics full-time and my school in the Bay Area, CA, closed down for the pandemic on Friday, March 13. My teacher colleagues and I began teaching completely online beginning the following Tuesday (March 17). This has been a huge adjustment and learning curve for both me and my students, but I am proud of my school and fellow teachers for working so hard at my school and across the world to continue teaching via virtual online instruction and holding classes alongside all that is going on.
I have heard that other schools that have closed have not been so lucky and are not offering any sort of online education. I also know that there are still many schools that have remained open despite scientific evidence (and common sense) that closing schools during a pandemic saves lives and slows the spread of a virus (see this Science Magazine article, or this article from National Institutes of Health, or this Nature article, etc.). My school was fortunate to be one of many schools to proactively close and to offer online education for our students. I encourage other schools and teachers to do the best they can to keep students engaged and learning virtually online during this time as it is in all of our best interest. There is much to learn from this historic time and staying busy is good for your mental health and wellbeing, but please do it safely and in accordance to CDC and WHO guidelines.
Note: I made these slides, Mr. Peluso’s COVID-19 Science, Information, and Inspiration Slides, for my students, but they have been picked up by many educators across the world. Maybe you will also find them educational and inspirational. Please be encouraged to use them yourself and share.
I would like to offer some inspiration for all of you, and for those of you with a Unistellar eVscope some work to keep you busy. The stars shine upon us constantly. This occurs when things are great and not so great, but they are a reminder that we live in a beautiful vast universe of a trillion billion plus stars with countless planets, and that we live on our own corner of this possibly infinite universe together on a small pale blue dot, together.
The stars are a reminder of our mortality, but also our commonality. The air we breathe, the elements that we are constructed with (even our current common enemy, COVID-19) all come from the same raw materials once forged in the heart of stars since past that have exploded to yield their creation, which then formed other stars, planets, and on at least one of them, us.
So take a look up at the stars on the next clear night alone or with a loved one and enjoy some silence and think about this. In addition, if you own a Unistellar eVscope and want to stay busy and help me and my team find some exoplanets with this new and exciting citizen science instrument, then please read on and stay tuned for more exoplanet targets in the coming weeks.
*Note: The observing directions have been very recently updated to improve upon our ability to collect better exoplanet data so please be sure to review them carefully before your session.
If you have not seen my previous posts on this topic, my name is Dan Peluso and I am doing my PhD in astrophysics with Franck Marchis (astronomer at the SETI Institute) and as a portion of my research I want to see if it is possible for any astronomy enthusiast around the world to coordinate with planet hunting scientists like us to help contribute to the search for planets around other stars (a.k.a. exoplanets).
Currently, one of the best planet hunting missions in operations is NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (a.k.a. TESS). Although NASA’s TESS is an amazing instrument, it still needs help in confirming and gathering additional data on the exoplanets it is attempting to observe. This is where YOU come in!
Exoplanet searches usually require elaborate setups, lots of study, maybe a fancy degree, and a sky mostly free of light pollution. With new technologies, such as with the new Unistellar eVscope and the citizen science network we are developing in coordination with the SETI Institute that is no longer the case!
The Unistellar eVscope has already proven its capabilities to observe the transit of an exoplanet (see image 1 below).
However, now we want to experiment with the possibilities of many eVscope users observing the same exoplanet and at the same time! Additionally, what will combining the data from many eVscopes do in helping us to learn more about these distant worlds? Can you and your eVscope help NASA TESS and other exoplanet scientists better understand these distant worlds? Ready to find out? I am! If you are too, then please read on for directions and details.
Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions and to let us know that you observed.
Date of observation: Thursday, March 26, 2020 Observation Start/End Time: 8:29 pm – 11:28 pm, Pacific Standard Time *Hey, guess what? You don’t even have to be with your eVscope this entire time! I’ve done observations this long and after setting up went inside to catch up on my favorite show or enjoyed some reading. IMPORTANT: PLEASE CHECK THE WEATHER so if you leave your eVscope out it is not damaged by rain/snow!!! Target: TOI 656.01
Additional details: V=12.4, Depth (ppt) = 26.83.
We hope to detect a new TESS planet! (FYI, TOI means “target of interest”) Celestial Coordinates: Right Ascension (RA) –> 10:19:37.96
Declination (Dec) –> -09:48:23.2 *Don’t forget the “-” sign for your Dec.
Date(s) of observation:
Friday, March 27, 2020 – Saturday, March 28, 2020
Observation Start/End Time:
9:13 pm – 1:26 am, Pacific Standard Time
*Hey, guess what? You don’t even have to be with your eVscope this entire time! I’ve done observations this long and after setting up went inside to catch up on my favorite show or enjoyed some reading.
IMPORTANT: PLEASE CHECK THE WEATHER so if you leave your eVscope out it is not damaged by rain/snow!!!
Additional details: V=12.8, Depth (ppt) = 19.8
We hope to detect exoplanet, HAT-P-12 b
Right Ascension (RA) –> 13:57:33.48
Declination (Dec) –> 43:29:36.7