Upcoming Event: Second Saturday Program

The Wacky World of Exoplanets
and How We Discover Them

Saturday, October 8, 2022 at 7:15 pm

Artist rendering: Exoplanet LTT 1445Ab Credit: NASA

Exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) come in all sizes, compositions, and orbital configurations around their host star. Some are even free floating! Although there are several theories, we still do not know for certain how most exoplanets were formed. What is certain, however, is that our overall knowledge of these distant and strange worlds has grown exponentially in the last few years and amateur astronomers have played a key role in their discovery.

This presentation will review the role exoplanet discoveries play in our quest for life outside our solar system, what some of the challenges are in discovering exoplanets, and how observations by amateur astronomers have been essential in making these discoveries. 

Guest Speaker: Dennis Conti, PhD,
Chair, AAVSO Exoplanet Section

Dennis Conti is a retired telecommunications professional and an amateur astronomer with a strong interest in exoplanet research. In 2015, he founded the AAVSO’s Exoplanet Section and has continued as section leader since.

Dennis has worked closely with the TESS Science Team to qualify AAVSO members as official participants in the TESS ground-based follow-up program, with over 26 AAVSO members now part of that program. He also developed the TESS submission guidelines and the software for detecting false positives, both of which have benefited the entire TESS team. Dennis is co-author of over 25 exoplanet discovery papers and has given presentations at numerous conferences and local astronomy clubs, as well as online exoplanet courses. For his contributions to TESS and other exoplanet activities, Dennis was awarded the American Astronomical Society’s 2020 Chambliss Amateur Astronomy Achievement Award.

The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) is a non-profit worldwide scientific and educational organization of amateur and professional astronomers who are interested in stars that change in brightness—variable stars. Learn more here.

This program is free and open to the public. You can attend either in-person or virtually via Zoom.

To attend in person: This event will be held at the Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory at Skinner Road and Battle Point Drive. Seating is limited to 40 so please arrive early. A map to the Ritchie Observatory can be found here.

To register for the live-streamed virtual event via Zoom, please click to register in advance. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email with the Zoom link for joining the virtual meeting.

If the weather cooperates, there will be a star party following the presentation.

Many thanks to these Bainbridge Island community organizations for their continuing support.