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Yale Astronomy

Monsoon Season

July 12, 2018 - Debra Fischer

The monsoon season is beginning in Arizona and will last until late August. I collect light from stars when there is a break in the clouds and we race to close the telescope dome if the radar maps show imminent rain.

Mid-summer is so dry up here. The lakebeds are dry, the grass is straw-yellow, and there are roadside signs warning of the high fire danger. But, for the next several weeks, there will be daily downpours refreshing the land. This is also a time for the EXPRES team to catch up. We've been working long hours to commission EXPRES and have been observing 10 - 15 nights per month for our 100 Earths program. The 5-week shutdown will give us a chance to revise software, upgrade hardware, work on improving the throughput.

Grad student Lily Zhao, postdoc John Michael Brewer, and Prof Fischer all attended the Exoplanets-2 meeting at the University of Cambridge. Lily showed our first results from EXPRES - a stunning 5 cm/s instrumental stability in cross-correlation of the laser frequency comb. John Michael gave a great talk on chemical composition and planet formation. Debra gave a talk on the last day of the meeting that connected the search for Earth analogs with RV spectrometers with a possible future space mission, the Large UltraViolet Optical and Infrared (LUVOIR) telescope. Our collaborator, Lars Buchhave and his postdoc Rene Tronsgaard Rasmussan shared their results, extracting EXPRES spectra. The optimal extraction that Lars implemented gives a beautiful result and we will be adopting their algorithm.

At the Exoplanets-2 meeting, the team spoke with Marc Kaufman, who wrote up a nice online story about our Search for 100 Earths.

Jun 25, 2018 Slideshow

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Thermal enclosure for EXPRES.
Undergrad Abby Mintz..
Waiting for the sun to set.
Blue skies camoflage the DCT dome.
The moon at sunset.
By the Lodge.
Wild Turkeys.
The Yale team at Penn State.
		Left to right: John Michael Brewer, Lily Zhao, Ryan Blackman, Ryan Petersburg, Joel Ong, Allen Davis.

BLOG Archive:

2018: July, June, April, March.

About Us

Photo from Lowell Observatory

The EXPRES team works on the discovery of planets orbiting stars other than our Sun, or exoplanets.

EXPRES is a next generation spectrograph that aims to break the record on current measurement precision with the goal of detecting small, rocky planets - similar to Earth - orbiting nearby stars. The instrument blends high resolution and extraordinary stability to produce the highest fidelity data.

This journey began long ago; our hope is that EXPRES will help humanity to explore the unknowns in the galaxy.

EXPRES Cast and Crew

  • Professors
    • Debra Fischer, Astronomy
    • Jessi Cisewski, Statistics
  • Research Scientists
    • Colby Jurgenson
    • Tyler McCracken
    • David Sawyer
    • Andrew Szymkowiak
  • Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows
    • John Michael Brewer
  • Graduate Students
    • Allen Davis
    • Ryan Blackman
    • Ryan Petersburg
    • Lily Zhao
    • Joel Ong
  • Undergraduate Students
    • Christopher Leet
    • Yonatan Zeff
    • Abby Mintz
  • Collaborators
    • Sally Dodson-Robinson, University of Delaware
    • Lars Buchhave, Danish National Space Institute
    • Gregory Henry, Tennessee State University
  • We Would Like to Expressly Thank
    • Steve Girvin, Yale University
    • Pieter van Dokkum, Yale University
    • Gábor Fűrész, MIT
    • Andy Szentgyorgyi, Harvard
    • Francesco Pepe, Geneva Observatory
    • Matteo Genoni, Brera Astronomical Observatory
    • Giorgio Pariani, Brera Astronomical Observatory
    • Marco Riva, Brera Astronomical Observatory
    • Ben Hardesty, Lowell Observatory
    • Frank Cornelius, Lowell Observatory
  • Support

    Support for this project has come from and the generosity of the Yale alumni Community.