Explorer – A Game Teaching Transit Photometry Exoplanet Detection
December 20, 2018
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Explorer was developed in collaboration with the Astronomy department at the University of St Andrews to help teach visitors how the James Gregory telescope is used to detect Exoplanets. It was created to be displayed on a touchscreen device for visitors to explore and let them learn about both previous observations the telescope has made and how exoplanets are identified using it.

To explore previous discoveries a user could pan around the night sky and select objects which had previously been observed. Objects were colour coded to highlight their types (exoplanet, galaxy etc.).

Once an object had been selected pages were displayed giving more information about the object including an image of the observation (where possible).

As well as showing previous observations Explorer featured a game teaching users how the JGT discovers exoplanets. In reality this is done by looking at a sun and looking for a periodic ‘dip’ as a planet passes in front of it and obscures its light. In the game users had to alter a planet’s size and orbit in order to match the ‘dip’ they were show, to help them explore how these factors affect what is seen through the telescope.