Planetary Follow-ups: from the Ozarks

Aug 1, 2019

Artist's rendering of a possible exoplanet.
Credit NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

It is now well known that planets orbit nearly every star we can see.  Astronomers are constantly working to fill in the details and understand the development of solar systems from the wide array of candidates visible to us.  This work is done initially by space-based satellites, as finding the exoplanets requires large telescopes and is best done outside the earth’s distorting atmosphere.  However, to lock down the characteristics of the detected bodies requires extensive follow-up work, some of which is being done here in the Ozarks.  Mike Reed, an astronomer here at Missouri State University, is conducting long-term observations using the new twenty inch PlaneWave telescope, recently installed at MSU’s own  Baker Observatory.  He and I chat about exoplanets, their detection and the work he and our students do to better understand the universe above us.