August 17, 2018

Colloquium Speaker: Dennis Conti

Dennis Conti earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Purdue University. After retiring from a career in telecommunications with Hughes Network Systems, Dennis became an avid deep sky and planetary imager. He then moved on to the detection of exoplanets and currently is Chair of AAVSO’s Exoplanet Section. Dennis has led a collaboration of amateur astronomers around the globe who provided ground-based observations in support of a Hubble science team’s study of some 15 exoplanets. In addition, Dennis is a member of the TESS and KELT exoplanet follow-up teams, is author of “A Practical Guide to Exoplanet Observing” (see, has spoken at various amateur astronomy clubs on the subject, has published articles in Astronomy and Discover magazines, and has conducted workshops and online courses on exoplanet observing.

Dennis lives in Annapolis, MD and from his permanent, pier-mounted telescope he is able to conduct exoplanet observations even in moderately light-polluted skies.

Colloquium Topic: Amateur Astronomer Participation in the TESS Exoplanet Mission

As the next step in our discovery of exoplanets, TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) was launched on April 18, 2018. TESS is a follow-on to the very successful Kepler space telescope, which itself has discovered over 3,000 exoplanets. However, unlike the small patch of sky that Kepler focused on, TESS will be conducting an all-sky survey of nearby stars.

Follow-up observations by amateur astronomers will be an important part of the TESS pipeline to help distinguish true exoplanet transits from false positives, as well as to help refine their ephemerides.

This talk will describe how amateur astronomers can participate in the TESS exoplanet mission and thereby help advance our knowledge of these distant worlds.