Close Distance

Close Distance - Stefano Nurra & Florian Schwarz

A comparison of the lives of an amateur astronomer, Caroyln Bol, based in Helensburgh who is participating in the citizen science project, ‘Planet Hunters’, and Dr Martin Dominik, Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews. Martin uses a technique called gravitational microlensing to detect small planets orbiting other stars. The film explores the enthusiasm Carolyn, an amateur, and Martin, a professional astronomer, share for the study of exoplanets.

Dr Martin Dominik said: “We share the fascination about the myriads of pinpoints of light on the night sky. A new era of exploring new worlds not only involves professional scientists, but also amateurs, who love what they are doing, and thereby make important contributions.”

Dr Martin Dominik

Since arriving in St Andrews in 2003, Dr Martin Dominik has been at the forefront of the search for new planets using the technique of gravitational microlensing. He was co-leader of the international team that discovered planet OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb, the most Earth-like planet found to date at the time of its announcement in 2006.

In 2010, Martin was the lead organiser of a Royal Society Scientific Discussion Meeting on "The detection of extra-terrestrial life and the consequences for science and society". He is an outspoken advocate on communication being an essential part of science, and science being an integral part of society. Martin is a member of the Global Young Academy and the SETI Permanent Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics.

Planet Hunters

Planet Hunters is a 'citizen science' project, part of the 'Zooniverse'. The Zooniverse and the suite of projects it contains is produced, maintained and developed by the Citizen Science Alliance. The member institutions of the CSA work with many academic and other partners around the world to produce projects that use the efforts and ability of volunteers to help scientists and researchers deal with the flood of data that confronts them.

You too can search for planets orbiting other stars. Take part in Planet Hunters