Automated Planet Finder

The Automated Planet Finder Telescope (APF) a.k.a. Rocky Planet Finder,[1] is a fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.[2] It is designed to search for extrasolar planets in the range of five to twenty times the mass of the Earth. The instrument will examine about 10 stars per night. Over the span of a decade, the telescope is expected to study 1,000 nearby stars for planets.[3] Its estimated cost was $10 million.[4] The total cost-to-completion of the APF project was $12.37 million.[2] First light was originally scheduled for 2006, but delays in the construction of the major components of the telescope[5] pushed this back to August 2013.[1] It was commissioned in August 2013.[6]

The telescope uses high-precision radial velocity measurements to measure the gravitational reflex motion of nearby stars caused by the orbiting of planets. The design goal is to detect stellar motions as small as one meter per second, comparable to a slow walking speed. The main targets will be stars within about 100 light years of the Earth.[1]

Early tests show that the performance of the Ken and Gloria Levy Doppler Spectrometer is meeting the design goals. The spectrometer has high throughput and is meeting the design sensitivity of (1.0 m/s),[1] similar to the radial velocity precision of HARPS and HIRES.

Automated Planet Finder
Automated Planet Finder Dome
The Automated Planet Finder dome. In the background is the dome housing the Carnegie Double Astrograph
Location(s)California, US
Automated Planet Finder is located in the United States
Automated Planet Finder
Location of Automated Planet Finder


Parts for the telescopes were constructed by international companies:[1]

  • The mirror blank was cast in Russia.
  • The blank was optical figured in Maryland, USA.
  • Assembly was performed in Arizona, USA.
  • The dome was built in Australia.
  • The spectrograph was designed and built in California.
  • It is located on Mount Hamilton in California.

Collaboration with Breakthrough Listen

The telescope will also be used to search for optical signals coming from laser transmissions from hypothetical extraterrestrial civilizations (search for extraterrestrial intelligence - SETI). This undertaking is for the heavily funded Breakthrough Listen to the Berkeley SETI Research Center.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Telescopes of the Lick Observatory". University of California Observatories. 2015. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  2. ^ a b Steven S. Vogt et al., APF - The Lick Observatory Automated Planet Finder, 26 February 2014.
  3. ^ Major gift supports crucial piece of Automated Planet Finder Archived 2008-06-13 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Perlman, David (August 21, 2010). "Automated Planet Finder telescope seeks life". San Francisco Chronicle.
  5. ^ UCO Director Newsletters: Newsletter #6 October 2009
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "A Russian Tycoon Is Spending $100 Million to Hunt for Aliens".

External links


APF may refer to:

In National Troops:

Armed Police Force (Nepal)In technology:

APF Electronics Inc., a defunct American consumer electronics company

Automated Planet Finder telescope

APF Imagination Machine, a video game console and home computer system

Atomic packing factor, in crystallographyOrganizations:

Association of Professional FuturistsOther:

Alicia Patterson Foundation, an annual journalism award

Alliance for Peace and Freedom, a far-right European party

American Party of Florida

American Police Force, a fraudulent entity

Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, established 1937

Anti-Privatisation Forum, former South African body

Appleford railway station, Oxfordshire, England, National Rail code

Arena Pro Football, American football league

Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol, the Paraguayan Football Association

Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, an international association of French-speaking parliaments

Asset purchase facility, for Bank of England quantitative easing

Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary

Naples Municipal Airport, Florida, US, IATA airport code

American Healthcare Professionals and Friends for Medicine in Israel

Berkeley SETI Research Center

The Berkeley SETI Research Center (BSRC) conducts experiments searching for optical and electromagnetic transmissions from intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations. The center is based at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Berkeley SETI Research Center has several SETI searches operating at various wavelengths, from radio, through infrared, to visible light. These include SERENDIP, SEVENDIP, NIROSETI, Breakthrough Listen, and SETI@home. The research center is also involved in the development of new telescopes and instrumentation.

The Berkeley SETI Research Center is independent of, but collaborates with, researchers at the SETI Institute. No unambiguous signals from extraterrestrial intelligence have been found.

Breakthrough Initiatives

Breakthrough Initiatives is a science-based program founded in 2015 and funded by Julia and Yuri Milner, also of Breakthrough Prize, to search for extraterrestrial intelligence over a span of at least 10 years. The program is divided into multiple projects. Breakthrough Listen will comprise an effort to search over 1,000,000 stars for artificial radio or laser signals. A parallel project called Breakthrough Message is an effort to create a message "representative of humanity and planet Earth". The project Breakthrough Starshot aims to send a swarm of probes to the nearest star at about 20% the speed of light. The project Breakthrough Watch aims to identify and characterize Earth-sized, rocky planets around Alpha Centauri and other stars within 20 light years of Earth. Breakthrough plans to send a mission to Saturn's moon Enceladus, in search for life in its warm ocean, and in 2018 signed a partnership agreement with NASA for the project.

Breakthrough Listen

Breakthrough Listen is a project to search for intelligent extraterrestrial communications in the Universe. With $100 million in funding and thousands of hours of dedicated telescope time on state-of-the-art facilities, it is the most comprehensive search for alien communications to date. The project began in January 2016, and is expected to continue for 10 years. It is a component of Yuri Milner's Breakthrough Initiatives program. The science program for Breakthrough Listen is based at Berkeley SETI Research Center, located in the Astronomy Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

The project uses radio wave observations from the Green Bank Observatory and the Parkes Observatory, and visible light observations from the Automated Planet Finder. Targets for the project include one million nearby stars and the centers of 100 galaxies. All data generated from the project are available to the public, and SETI@Home is used for some of the data analysis. The first results were published in April 2017, with further updates expected every 6 months.

Geoffrey Marcy

Geoffrey William Marcy (born September 29, 1954) is an American astronomer. He is one of the pioneers and leaders in the discovery and characterization of exoplanets. Marcy was Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley and an Adjunct Professor of Physics and Astronomy at San Francisco State University before stepping down in October 2015. His colleagues in the Berkeley Astronomy Department forced him to resign after allegations of sexual harassment were substantiated by a Berkeley investigation.Marcy and his research teams are recognized for discovering many extrasolar planets, including 70 out of the first 100 known exoplanets and also the first planetary system around a Sun-like star, Upsilon Andromedae. Marcy was a co-Investigator on the NASA Kepler mission that discovered over 4000 exoplanets. Early collaborators include R. Paul Butler, Debra Fischer and Steven S. Vogt. Later collaborators include Jason Wright, Andrew Howard, Katie Peek, John Johnson, Erik Petigura, Lauren Weiss, Lea Hirsch and the Kepler Science Team.

High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher

The High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) is a high-precision echelle planet-finding spectrograph installed in 2002 on the ESO's 3.6m telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile. The first light was achieved in February 2003. HARPS has discovered over 130 exoplanets to date, with the first one in 2004, making it the most successful planet finder behind the Kepler space observatory. It is a second-generation radial-velocity spectrograph, based on experience with the ELODIE and CORALIE instruments.

KIC 8462852

KIC 8462852 (also Tabby's Star or Boyajian's Star) is an F-type main-sequence star located in the constellation Cygnus approximately 1,470 light-years (450 pc) from Earth. Unusual light fluctuations of the star, including up to a 22% dimming in brightness, were discovered by citizen scientists as part of the Planet Hunters project. In September 2015, astronomers and citizen scientists associated with the project posted a preprint of an article describing the data and possible interpretations. The discovery was made from data collected by the Kepler space telescope, which observed changes in the brightness of distant stars to detect exoplanets.Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the star's large irregular changes in brightness as measured by its light curve, but none to date fully explain all aspects of the curve. One explanation is that an "uneven ring of dust" orbits KIC 8462852. In another explanation, the star's luminosity is modulated by changes in the efficiency of heat transport to its photosphere, so no external obscuration is required. A third hypothesis, based on a lack of observed infrared light, posits a swarm of cold, dusty comet fragments in a highly eccentric orbit, however, the notion that disturbed comets from such a cloud could exist in high enough numbers to obscure 22% of the star's observed luminosity has been doubted. Another hypothesis is that a large number of small masses in "tight formation" are orbiting the star. Furthermore, spectroscopic study of the system has found no evidence for coalescing material or hot close-in dust or circumstellar matter from an evaporating or exploding planet within a few astronomical units of the mature central star. It has also been hypothesized that the changes in brightness could be signs of activity associated with intelligent extraterrestrial life constructing a Dyson swarm; however, further analysis based on data until the end of 2017 showed wavelength-dependent dimming consistent with dust but not an opaque object such as an alien megastructure which would block all wavelengths of light equally.KIC 8462852 is not the only star that has large irregular dimmings, but all other such stars are young stellar objects called YSO dippers, which have different dimming patterns. An example of such an object is EPIC 204278916.New light fluctuation events of KIC 8462852 began in the middle of May 2017. Except for a period between late-December 2017 and mid-February 2018 when the star was obscured by the Sun, the fluctuations have been observed to have continued as of July 2018.

Lick Observatory

The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory, owned and operated by the University of California. It is situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose, California, US. The observatory is managed by the University of California Observatories, with headquarters on the University of California, Santa Cruz campus, where its scientific staff moved in the mid-1960s. It is named after James Lick.

List of exoplanet search projects

The following is a list of exoplanet search projects.

List of large optical telescopes

This is a list of large optical reflecting telescopes. For telescopes larger than 3 meters in aperture see List of largest optical reflecting telescopes. This list combines large or expensive reflecting telescopes from any era, as what constitutes famous reflector has changed over time. In 1900 a 1-meter reflector would be among the largest in the world, but by 2000, would be relatively common for professional observatories.


The NIROSETI (Near-InfraRed Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is an astronomical program to search for artificial signals in the optical (visible) and near infrared (NIR) wavebands of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is the first dedicated near-infrared SETI experiment. The instrument was created by a collaboration of scientists from the University of California, San Diego, Berkeley SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, University of Toronto, and the SETI Institute. It uses the Anna Nickel 1-m telescope at the Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA. The instrument was commissioned (saw its first light) on 15 March 2015 and has been operated for more than 150 nights.

Nasmyth telescope

The Nasmyth telescope, also called Nasmyth–Cassegrain or Cassegrain–Nasmyth, is a reflecting telescope developed by James Nasmyth. It is a modified form of a Cassegrain telescope, with light reflected sideways before reaching the primary mirror again.

Planet finder

Planet finder may refer to:

Terrestrial Planet Finder, a NASA project for a telescope system to detect extrasolar terrestrial planets

Automated Planet Finder, a telescope at Lick Observatory, California

Robotic telescope

A robotic telescope is an astronomical telescope and detector system that makes observations without the intervention of a human. In astronomical disciplines, a telescope qualifies as robotic if it makes those observations without being operated by a human, even if a human has to initiate the observations at the beginning of the night, or end them in the morning. It may have software agent(s) using Artificial Intelligence that assist in various ways such as automatic scheduling. A robotic telescope is distinct from a remote telescope, though an instrument can be both robotic and remote.

Search for extraterrestrial intelligence

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a collective term for scientific searches for intelligent extraterrestrial life, for example, monitoring electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other planets.Scientific investigation began shortly after the advent of radio in the early 1900s, and focused international efforts have been going on since the 1980s. In 2015 Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a well-funded effort called the Breakthrough Initiatives.

Sigma Draconis

Sigma Draconis (σ Draconis, abbreviated Sig Dra, σ Dra), also named Alsafi , is a 4.7-magnitude star located at a distance of 18.8 light-years from the Sun in the constellation of Draco.

Steven S. Vogt

Steven Scott Vogt (born December 20, 1949) is an American astronomer of German descent whose main interest is the search for extrasolar planets.

He is credited, along with R. Paul Butler, for discovering Gliese 581 g, the first potentially habitable planet outside of the Solar System.He is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is known worldwide for designing and building HIRES, a high-resolution optical spectrometer mounted permanently on the W. M. Keck Observatory 10-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. HIRES is an instrument critical to observations and discoveries about the planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe. Vogt also built the Hamilton spectrometer at Lick Observatory (with which most of the first extrasolar planets were discovered). In 1987, earlier in his career, Vogt invented the technique of "Doppler imaging" for mapping the surface features of stars.Vogt is currently a member of the California-Carnegie Planet Search Team. This team is building a new telescope in the Lick Observatory, the Automated Planet Finder, expected to be the most powerful in the world for detecting extrasolar planets. It will be able to track planets moving at velocities as little as 1 meter per second (the speed of a walking man). Vogt and his team are credited with detecting a majority of the 100 planets now known.Vogt received his bachelor's degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972, his Master of Science degree in Astronomy from UT Austin in 1976, and Ph.D in Astronomy from UT Austin in 1978.He's been a member of the University of California Observatories (UCO) at Lick Observatory since 1978.

Terrestrial Planet Finder

The Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) was a proposed project by NASA to construct a system of space telescopes for detecting extrasolar terrestrial planets. TPF was postponed several times and finally cancelled in 2011. There were actually two telescope systems under consideration, the TPF-I, which had several small telescopes, and TPF-C, which used one large telescope.

Space missions

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