Amateur stargazers discover new planet after watching BBC show
Published 20/01/2012 | 07:58
TWO amateur stargazers have discovered a new planet and are to have it named after them.
Chris Holmes and Lee Threapleton spotted it during a project to find planets beyond our solar system, publicised by Professor Brian Cox in his BBC Stargazing Live series, the Daily Mail reported.
If the authenticity of their discovery is confirmed by scientists the planet, thought to be gaseous and around the size of Neptune, will be named "Threapleton Holmes B".
The pair made the discovery after identifying changes in light patterns in an image from Nasa's Kepler space telescope.
The image had been posted online at Planethunters.org, an Oxford University scheme that asks members of the public to look through data from Nasa in the hope of eliciting such discoveries.
The patterns they found suggested that a planet appeared to be orbiting a sun called SPH10066540 which lies between 600 and 3,000 light years away.
Mr Holmes, of Peterborough, said: "I've never even had a telescope. I've had a passing interest in where things are in the sky, but never had any more knowledge about it than that.
"Being the one to find something is a very exciting position."
The project's team have not yet been able to reach Mr Threapleton.
Dr Chris Lintott of Oxford University said the planet was likely to be too hot to sustain life.
It is thought to be only the third time British amateurs have found a new planet, according to the Daily Mail.
Mr Holmes and Mr Threapleton were following in the footsteps of the first of them, William Herschel, who discovered Uranus in 1781.