2008 June 8
I’m in the basement of Campbell Hall tonight, remotely observing the transiting exoplanet HAT-P-7 with the Nickel 40″ telescope on Mount Hamilton. Conditions are pretty good tonight, though the wind has been gusty and the telescope has been shaky as a result. This means I’m actually using the windscreen on the Nickel, which is a first for me.
It looks like the weather is going to be cooperative for the entire night, which would mean that I should be able to get images over the entire transit with ample padding both before and after. I think this would be only the second time that there hasn’t been some issue at some point during one of my transit observations. (I’m jinxing myself horribly, aren’t I?)
Apparently there’s only one published lightcurve for the planet in question, so if tonight’s data hold up, we’ll have a pretty exciting resource on our hands. In all likelihood, the data won’t show anything terribly exciting; we’ll just narrow down the uncertainties on some of the usual parameters: planetary radius, orbital period, etc. But results like that make for a nice solid paper.
Later … Spoke too soon, sort of. The data are acceptable, but the sensitivity of the telescope seems a lot lower than it has been before, we realized. Apparently there are some low-level things with the gain of the CCD chip that have accidentally been futzed with, but it doesn’t look like that would account for what we’re seeing. The night is not ruined by any means but we’re pretty sure that we ought to be getting better results. I’m fine with that outcome, though.