Presented at the 84th
AAVSO Spring Meeting, May 13, 1995
Periodic temporary dimmings
of a star caused by transits (passages between the star and the Earth) of a
Jovian planet orbiting it offer possibilities for discovering extrasolar
planets (planets orbiting stars other than the Sun). This paper investigates
such transits for 10 nearby stars: the magnitude changes (delta m) expected,
probabilities for occurrence, and total transit durations are calculated for
transits by Jovian planets of 70,000 km and 25,000 km radii. Methods for
detecting transits are discussed. The possibility of AAVSO involvement in
searches for transits of nearby stars by extrasolar Jovian planets is discussed
in connection with flare star monitoring and the AAVSO's education program.
Finally, 21st century searches for extrasolar planets with spacecraft,
including unmanned interstellar spacecraft launched towards some nearby stars,
are briefly mentioned.