Discover exoplanets yourself

A lot of the data used in the discovery of exoplanets is freely accessible online. On top this, resources now exist which allow you to analyse this data relatively easily from the comfort of your own home! Links to some of these relevant sites are listed on the resources page of this website. Using these websites and tools may initially seem like a daunting task; however we have created a step-by-step guide to make the process much easier.

The guide has been designed to be understood and utilised by both GCSE and A-level students, though some exercises included are accessible to younger years. The guide may prove particularly helpful to those completing an EPQ or HPQ in an area relating to exoplanet physics. Direct links to physics, maths and computer science syllabus materials are included at the end of the guide along with extended project work suggestions.

A variety of topics are explored in the guide. Most topics covered include background knowledge, discussion points and fun exercises to complete (these are clearly marked throughout the guide). These exercises may be practical or computer based, providing you with a range of new skills. Often the exercises may require little more than your phone camera, internet access, or a roll of toilet paper! Tips and solutions are provided following each exercise.

Each section of the guide is designed to be largely independent from the others, so you may make use of only the parts of the guide which are of interest to you. Topics covered in the guide include:

  • Exoplanet properties and background
  • Comparisons to our Solar System
  • Transit detection methods
  • Radial Velocity detection methods and Doppler shift
  • Astrometry
  • The habitable zone
  • Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams
  • Making real life observations
  • Querying databases
Foreground exoplanet, distant star
Students, Teachers & Enthusiasts

Explore the world of exoplanets in greater detail and test that knowledge against real observations.

This guide (PDF - 2.2 Mb) aims to be accessible to the majority of GCSE and A-level students, though anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to take a look. Step-by-step instructions are provided for many exercises throughout the guide, allowing you to confirm the latest discoveries and possibly contribute your own!

Down arrow icon