One of my favourite stories out of all of those we’ve covered on the Sky at Night in the last three years was that of SuperWASP. WASP stands for the Wide Angle Planet Search, and the idea is to scan as much of the sky as possible, as quickly as possible, in order to catch the extremely faint blink of a planet passing in front of its parent star. There is no telescope – the two WASP installations use top of the range cameras and camera lenses (some of which, rumour has it, were obtained via ebay!). I reported on the story during my trip to the Canaries in 2004, and had almost given up hope of hearing of detections. The sheer amount of signal processing required to extract anything from the flood of data is immense, but this week brought the first two WASP planets, and I suspect there will be many, many more to come. An excellent result from a simple idea, brilliantly executed.
My only complaint? Why did they have to announce it less than a day after we’d filmed this months News Notes?