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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

A 21st Century 'Corps of Discovery'

A 21st Century 'Corps of Discovery'

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Wednesday, October 3, 2018/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, art and design, environment, adventure

                       Panoptes Telescope for Exoplantet Discovery (credit: Project Panoptes)

Like Lewis & Clark's "Corps of Discovery", to explore unknown lands west of the Mississippi River, a new project of exploration suited to the 21st Century has begun. PANOPTES (Panoptic Astronomical Networked Observatories for a Public Transiting Exoplanets Survey) is a citizen science driven project which aims to build low cost, robotic telescopes which can be used to detect far-off planets. The hope is that 'citizen scientists' will join forces with space laboratories and use their individual telescopes and computers to discover exoplanets.

According to NASA, Panoptes is derived from Argus Panoptes, a mythical creature of ancient Greece with the ability to see in all directions at all times. The goal of Panoptes is to build a collaborative, world-wide, network of observatories that will survey the night sky for nearby exoplanets and individuals are encouraged to join the project. So far this year, three of the small telescopes have been constructed: a prototype on Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano; a unit built by someone other than the original team who just followed the provided designs and instructions at Wheaton College; and the first handmade telescope attached to an off-the-shelf computer rather than a mainframe processor in Sydney, Australia.

The cost estimates for building a Panoptes telescope are estimated approximately $5000 so building a telescope will likely be attempted by astronomy clubs or in graduate research program at a university. One of original designers provides a full description of the projectr in a presentation at the University of Hawai'i.

So go down to your local ACE Hardware, Lowes, or Home Depot to gather up the required parts and build yourself an exoplanet hunting telescope. You'll be following in the footsteps of another great 'corps of discovery' but one for the 21st Century.



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