Discovering Exoplanets with the Transit Method

Exoplanets are too small and far away to see directly, even with the most powerful telescopes. So how can astronomers detect them? When an exoplanet passes in front of its star it blocks some of the star’s light. For a short time, the star’s brightness decreases. So, if astronomers detect that a star’s brightness decreases and then increases again, they can deduce that there is a planet orbiting the star.

In this activity students will investigate how scientists use a transit to detect exoplanets.

Age Range: 11-13 years old
Prep. Time: 15 minutes
Lesson Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Cost per activity: Low
Includes the use of: Laptop with webcam and light grapher software

Slide Pack

Teacher Guide

Student Guide

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