Planet Hunting Machines

Noites no Observatório – Máquinas de Caçar Planetas

Planet Hunting Machines

By Pedro Figueira, of Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA)

Since the discovery of the inhospitable 51 Peg b we found more than 3600 exoplanets, with proprieties that challenge both the imagination and several scientific theories. In this talk we will learn about the history of the detection and characterisation of planets around other stars, a history full of surprising discoveries and of many open questions.

The Portuguese research community is very active in this domain and is involved in the construction of “planet hunting machines”, high resolution spectrographs used to detect other worlds beyond the Solar System. At the end of the session, we will discuss our capacity to detect planets with proprieties similar to those of Earth, as well as the Portuguese participation in what is arguably the biggest scientific question of our time.

After the public talk, there will be a music and effects show projected on the planetary dome, and observations of the night sky will run continuously until midnight, if weather conditions allow.

Watch the talk (in Portuguese) on IA’s channels on YouTube and Vimeo.



2.5 hours

Free entrance


Although the entrance is free of charge, the access to the activity requires a registration here.

Due to the growing audience attending our activities and the fact that some people give up without notice, an email will be sent asking for confirmation. The lack of a reply within 48 hours after the reception of this confirmation request will be taken as a dropout and the registration will be cancelled. For this reason, please check your email inbox regularly in order to confirm your attendance in the activity.

The observation of the night sky depends on the weather conditions. As this is run outside, we recommend the use of warm clothes.

The talk is given regardless of the observations. The Calouste Gulbenkian Planetarium will open its doors half an hour before the event starts.

The public talk is given in Portuguese.

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Planetário Calouste Gulbenkian - Centro Ciência Viva
Museu de Marinha
Praça do Império

How to get there

By car
GPS – 38.698140, -9.208919

By bus
714, 727, 28, 729, 751 e 201

By tram

By boat
Estação fluvial de Belém ( Transtejo)

Live broadcasting

You can watch the event from home and ask questions to the speaker visiting this online address.

The online broadcasting of the talks has the support of the Fundação para a Computação Científica Nacional (FCCN), a division of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT).