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May 7th, 2006


Image source: NASA Visible Earth

For most people, a mention of Finland brings to mind snow, lakes, conifers, Nokia and Linus Torvalds. Here at oklo.org, however, we hear Finland and we think of top-drawer amateur astronomers. In 2000, the Finn Arto Oksanen was the first amateur to observe the HD 209458 b transit. More recently, both Oksanen and countryman Pertti Paakkonen have contributed a number of observations of TrES-1 and other stars to transitsearch.org. Finnish IP addresses are consistently among the top traffic generators on the Systemic Console.

Now, Veli-Pekka Hentunen and the Warkauden Kassiopeia ry (the Astronomical Association of Varkaus) join the ranks, with a fine observation of last week’s TrES-1 planetary transit. Their lightcurve, shown just below, was obtained with a Meade 12-inch LX200 telescope and a cooled SBIG ST8-XME CCD camera:

April 30, 2006 TrES-1 Transit Photometry

The photometry shows a tantalizing hint of the starspot activity that is known to characterize TrES-1. A more detailed analysis will be needed to see whether the small in-transit bump has statistical significance. As discussed in a previous post, HST has shown that starspot activity on TrES-1 can produce stange-looking features in the light curve:

transit of TrES-1 obtained with HST

Hentunen and his colleagues have constructed a very impressive facility at a dark (and from the look of things cold) site in the Finnish interior. Information in English regarding both their observatory and their scientific work can be found at the Taurus Hill Observatory Website.

varkaus observatory

Taurus Hill Observatory

Hentunen and friends will be able to kick back and take it easy for the next few months because it doesn’t really get dark at their location during the Summer. In the Winter, however, when the weather is clear, they’ll have the opportunity to make long-duration time-series photometric observations of stars near the polar cap. For example, they’ll be in awesome position to snag oklo.org favorite HD 80606 (+50 deg declination) during its Dec. 26, 2006 transit opportunity.

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