Backyard AstroScience > Project Update

Success Story: Amelia’s “Life on Exoplanets” project is a 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards winner

We have just heard that Amelia’s “Life on Exoplanets” project has taken out the Primary Investigation category in the 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards.

Congratulations Amelia!

Amelia used our Exoplanet Transit Tracking project as the centrepiece of her investigation into the possibilities of living on other planets and the challenges of finding other habitable planets. You can find out more about her project here.


Success Story: Amelia – Life on Exoplanets

Amelia and her Father, approached us to ask for help with a project for the Victorian Science Talent Search 2017. Amelia is concerned about the future of Human life on Earth as we damage the planet with pollution and climate change takes hold.
Amelia wanted to explore the possibilities of Human life on other planets, outside our solar system. Do exoplanets exist? Can we travel to them? Can we live on them?
Amelia used our “Exoplanet Transit Tracking” project to allow her to locate and observe a real exoplanet and in-so-doing, learn more about exoplanets and the possibilities of Human colonization.

You can read more about her project here.
Life on Exoplanets

Great job Amelia!

Amelia is a big fan of professional Astrophysicist Prof. Alan Duffy. Here is what he had had to say at the beginning of her project.

Continuous Spectrum over Melbourne

Continuous Spectrum over Melbourne

OK, It’s just a rainbow. A rainbow appears when the light from the Sun is split into its component colours as it passes through water in the Earth’s atmosphere.

A Backyard AstroScience team is currently exploring Spectroscopy using their telescope and a Grating to split the light into its unique spectrum. The next step analyse each of the images using RSPEC to see how much science we can extract.

Sirius Spectrum
Procyon Spectrum


Spectroscopic Analysis

Building a Mars Rover

This project aims to build a remotely operated ‘Mars Rover’ which teams can use to explore an unknown location using sensors and cameras loded onto a a rover.

☑ Step 1 is pretty simple: hack an off-the-shelf RC car to give us a base platform for the rover.

The Original RC Car
Mars Rover Stage 1

☐ Step 2: Hacking the electronics on the rover to be controlled by an ArduPilot instead of the regular remote control.

☐ Step 3: Add sensors and a camera to the rover and integrate these with the Ardupilot MissionPlanner software.

Stay tuned for updates

Our first confirmed Variable Star discovery

Variable Star Search Workshop
Will plans his approach at our Variable Star Workshop

On the 1st of January, Will, one of our Junior AstroScientists, reported that the AAVSO have reviewed his data and approved the variable star that he has been analysing. It is a previously undiscovered variable star, with a period of just over 1/3 of a day. It has been given AAVSO Unique Identifier (AUID) of 000-BMD-525.

This is a magnificent achievement showing how amateur astronomers (and astrophysicists) can contribute to the wider community.

The star is located in the constellation APUS and shines at magnitude 14.3 so it’s pretty faint!

An example of one of Will’s images
Apus is shown at the upper/middle in this view







The following phase plots show how the star magnitude varies over time with a clear, repeated pattern.

Read more of Will’s story here

Phase Plot of Will’s Variable in Apus
Phase Plot of Will’s Variable in Apus