Exoplanet Watch

When exoplanets pass between us and their stars, the stars’ light dims just a bit. Scientists call the passage of a planet in front of its star a transit. Join Exoplanet Watch and use your own telescope to track these transits and gather data on how they dim their stars. 

No telescope? No problem! You can use our data checkout system to request data from an exoplanet observation to analyze yourself. 

You don't have to be a rocket scientist or an astrophysicist to study distant worlds. The project will teach you what you need to know to collect important data on exoplanets. 

Go to Project Website


18 and up




Online or outside



What you'll do

  • Join our Slack channel to interact with a lively community of 2000+ exoplanet enthusiasts!
  • If you have a telescope: observe transiting exoplanets. If you don’t have a telescope: request data from a robotic telescope.
  • Analyze your data using free software called “EXOTIC” (our community will help you get started).
  • Upload your results to the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) Exoplanet Database.
  • See your data included on the Exoplanet Watch Results webpage and used for further research.


  • Time to get started: 2-4 minutes to complete online training.
  • Equipment: Web-connected device.
  • Knowledge: None. An in-project tutorial is provided.

Get started!

  1. Start with this checklist https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/exoplanet-watch/how-to-contribute/checklist/.
  2. Learn about exoplanets from our Resources collection.
  3. Get some data (from your own telescope or our checkout system) and start looking for exoplanets!

Learn More

Exoplanet Watch is on Slack! Join the project’s workspace to meet other Exoplanet Watch participants, ask questions, troubleshoot problems, get updates on the biweekly full team meetings, and more. This community is a fun, friendly, helpful group. Beginners are welcome. Join our Slack channel.

You can also subscribe to free Exoplanet Watch Monthly Newsletters, which include information about exoplanets to observe, new project features, information on topics that will be covered in bi-weekly meetings, a featured member of the month and astrophoto of the month, and links to exoplanet resources.

Want to learn more about exoplanet discovery right now? Take a look and listen to this entertaining and informative presentation by Exoplanet Watch’s lead scientist Rob Zellem of the Jet Propulsion Lab to colleagues at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Exoplanet Watch logo On a white field, a simple graphic sits above the words "Exoplanet Watch." The graphic consists of a large purple circle with a green horizontal strip extending across its middle and well outside the circle. Sitting at the intersection of the purple circle and the green line on the right side is another circle, this one in pale blue.  The purple circle represents a star, the pale blue circle an orbiting exoplanet, and the green line the trace of the exoplanet's orbit.
A transiting exoplanet's lightcurve. Points are scattered about a value of ~1. When the planet passes in front of its host star, these points decrease by ~3% as the planet blocks out some of the star's light. When the planet is no longer in front of the star, the points return to a value of ~1. An additional curve on the plot shows a model fit to the data to measure the planet's radius. A second plot at the bottom of the image shows the residuals when the data is divided by the best-fit model. They are typically less than half a percent.
A lightcurve of a transiting exoplanet, a plot of how the star’s brightness changes with time. When a planet passes in front of its host star, it blocks some of that star's light. The blue dots in the middle of the graph are lower than those to the right and left, showing how the light from this star dimmed. From this dimming, we can measure the planet’s size and learn about its chemical composition.
Credit: Exoplanet Watch project
A man standing next to a large telescope with the sky in the background
Citizen scientist Bryan E. Martin uses his personal telescope to observe exoplanet transits with NASA’s Universe of Learning Exoplanet Watch.
Credit: Bryan E. Martin

Get to know the people of Exoplanet Watch!

Rob Zellem


Portrait photo of a man standing in front of a lake

John Engelke

Software developer

Photo of a smiling young man in classes

Tamim Fatahi

Undergraduate Intern

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Isabella “Izzy” Huckabee

Undergraduate Intern

Portrait photo of a smiling blonde haired woman in a white top standing in front of a tree with white blossoms

Kiah May

Undergraduate Intern

Photo of a man standing underneath a telescope

Kyle Pearson

Deputy Science Lead; EXOTIC Development Lead

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Michael Primm

Exoplanet volunteer/ Chief Technology Officer

Headshot of a smiling woman with dark hair

Kalée Tock

Exoplanet volunteer/ High School Science Teacher