UC astronomers debut new robotic planet-hunting telescope

March 25, 2014
Automated Planet Finder (APF)
The Automated Planet Finder (APF) is the newest telescope at UC's Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton. Photo: Laurie Hatch

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. Its technical performance has been outstanding, making it not only the first robotic planet-finding facility but also one of the most sensitive.

UC Santa Cruz astronomer, Steve Vogt, and UC Berkeley professor of astronomy, Geoffrey Marcy are co-investigators working on the APF facility. Read more.