ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Help Search for Planets Online - Scientists Invite the Public

Updated on November 13, 2012

A Screenshot from

An image from the Planet Hunters tutorial
An image from the Planet Hunters tutorial | Source

Join the Hunt for Exoplanets

Imagine detecting a planet that was previously unknown to humankind. You can do it -- and no special degree or astrosuit is required.

As a home-based volunteer for Planet Hunters you can evaluate images from the Kepler telescope and alert experts about your discoveries. Volunteers make no specific time commitments; you can spend just a few minutes or get obsessive about the search.

The Kepler Mission: Discover Habitable Planets

The Kepler telescope was launched in 2009 with the mission of discovering Earth-like planets. More than 200 Earth-size planets have already been identified through analyses of Kepler images. Ten of them are believed to be in habitable zones or areas where liquid water might exist. More than 2000 additional "candidate planets" have also been identified! Scientists reason that human observers can detect even more planets that were missed by automated computer analyses.

Who is Behind Planet Hunters?

Planet Hunters is a public project managed by Yale University and Zooniverse, a "citizen science" web portal. Other members of the consortium include the University of Oxford, Chicago's Adler Planetarium and Vizzuality, an organization devoted to "biodiversity, conservation, citizen science and humanitarian response."

The Planet Hunters website uses images of approximately 155,000 stars that were collected with US taxpayer funds.

A sample display of stars and planets from (Click to enlarge)
A sample display of stars and planets from (Click to enlarge) | Source

The Planet Hunter Process

Volunteering to look for planets involves completing a brief tutorial. When a person visits, they're shown a sample image of outer space. They learn to spot bent light, a phenomenon that occurs when planets pass their suns.

If a volunteer notices a dip in light, they can use their cursor to mark the area. The pressure for accuracy isn't intense: For quality control, multiple volunteers study each image.


Volunteers who register with Planet Hunters and find planets will be credited in any scientific papers resulting from their discovery. Sadly though, they won't have the planets named in their honor. Exoplanet names are derived from the stars that they orbit.

The Kepler 22-B Discovery

Scientists discovered one exciting planet, Kepler 22-B, just a few days into studying Kepler data in 2009. This planet is believed to be comparable in size and surface temperature to Earth. Checking it out would be quite a commute though; Kepler 22-B is located 600 light years away. Maybe you'll find a more convenient option.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • SantaCruz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Rafken, I just added your hub to this article's links :-).

    • rafken profile image


      6 years ago from The worlds my oyster

      Well with this and being able to study photos looking for aliens on the Moon, I guess people can no longer complain that they can't take part in a search for life in the universe. Thanks, nice hub

    • SantaCruz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I'm happy to see the enthusiasm... Maybe someone's next bout of insomnia will lead to a planetary discovery :).

    • point2make profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent hub...very informative. I was not aware of this project but I will check it out. Thanks for the info. Voted this hub up!

    • Eliminate Cancer profile image

      Eliminate Cancer 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Wow, this sounds really neat. I think it's quite possible that we will stumble upon another planet with life, but it won't be anything like the life we have on earth. Fascinating hub - thank you!!

    • scottcgruber profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Great hub for a great project!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)