One night 3 weeks ago my CCD camera produced a dud frame.  Just noise.  But the rest of the night’s observations went normally. The following night it was all noise.  Yes, some stars could be seen, but mostly it was ugly.  I tried again the following night, in the hope the problem might clear with a restart.  Nope. Emails to the SBIG service man, Bill Lynch, were discouraging.  The ST-8XME is obsolete and spare parts are virtually non-existent.  The last time I sent it back for repair Bill had said the board he put in was the last one he had.  SBIG also do aRead More →

50 planet discoveries, that is.  The 50th, TOI-564b was announced on arxiv today, a nice Xmas present. A hot Jupiter in a grazing orbit, this discovery makes a nod to the past, and points to the future. The past, because the first exoplanet found, in 1995, was a hot Jupiter.  The future because this one was found by TESS, which is likely to dominate discoveries for years to come. As is customary, milestones are occasions for reflection.  Back in Oct 2010 PEST was just a plywood shell, and planet discovery was just a dream.   Now, the list of PEST co-discoveries includes a diversity ofRead More →

I have now made available the set of programs I use for processing photometry and producing plots and reports, the ‘PEST Pipeline‘. I’ve included an overview, downloads as well as a tutorial.  The Pipeline is the result of several years of development, with the TESS project (in particular Karen Collins) driving requirements over the last year.  It’s quick and efficient in getting from raw photometric data to plots and reports, mainly because there little fiddling with settings and selections on windows, and lots of standardisation of everything from workflow to file location and naming. I’d like to acknowledge David Motl and his fantastic C-Munipack packageRead More →

The email a few weeks ago said; “Thank you again for publishing with us. As a thank you to our accepted authors, you are invited to receive a one year complimentary personal subscription to Nature.” Now the first copy has arrived on my desk.  This may not seem a big deal, but Nature is probably the most prestigious multi-disciplinary science journal in the world – the wave nature of particles, the structure of DNA, nuclear fission and plate tectonics were all first announced in its pages. And I’m receiving it as an author, on publication in Nature Astronomy of the the first TESS planet discoveriesRead More →