The Search for Other Earths (2016)

Syllabus and Recommended Reading

Class Notes. Some of these files are very large due to many pictures.
Class 1: Introduction (printable version)
Class 2: Stars (printable version)
Class 3: Finding Exoplanets (printable version)
Class 4: Finding Exoplanets Part 2 (printable version)
Class 5: Kepler: A Plethora of Planets (printable version)
Class 6: What's Out There? (printable version)
Class 7: Understanding Exoplanets (printable version)

The Kepler Orrery showing all the multiple planet systems found by Kepler
An inexpensive but nice spectroscope

Interesting Links

The Kepler website - pretty much everything you could want, from pretty pictures to technical papers
Help find planets in Kepler data at Planethunters!
The NASA Exoplanet Archive, where details of exoplanet discoveries (including Kepler) can be found
The Kepler Data Archive, where the basic Kepler pixel data is stored, another exoplanet results archive.  Somewhat friendlier to the non-technical user.
The Habitable Zone Gallery, showing where confirmed exoplanets are relative to their habitable zones
Exoplanets Explained, a very nice video summarizing exoplanet discoveries
Chris Burke talking about his planet occurrence rate calculation
A wonderful visualization of Kepler's confirmed planets at the New York Times
An animation of the Kepler multiple planet systems

If you want to get technical

Go to the search page at and type "Kepler" in the abstract to see papers written by astronomers from around the world using Kepler data. is where astronomers, physicists and mathematicians publish pretty much everything these days, usually before it appears in the peer-reviewed journals. 

Particularly interesting papers:
Estimates of how many planets there are per star from Kepler data:,,,
The current state-of-the-art theory of habitable zone location:
My big false-positive techniques paper is at