March 25, 2014

Lick's Automated Planet Finder: First robotic telescope for planet hunters

In its first months of operation, the APF has found two new planetary systems, giving astronomers a taste of planetary riches to come

Lick Observatory's newest telescope, the Automated Planet Finder (APF), has been operating robotically night after night on Mt. Hamilton since January, searching nearby stars for Earth-sized planets. Every night the fully autonomous system checks the weather, decides which stars to observe, and moves the telescope from star to star throughout the night, collecting measurements that will reveal the presence of planets.