February 15, 2023 Program Meeting

Topic: The Wacky World of Exoplanets and How We Discover Them

Speaker: Dennis Conti

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 is also on the board of the AAVSO.

Exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) we now know 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.

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