Stargazing Live viewer discovers new planet

A viewer helped spot a world that appears to be circling a star dubbed SPH10066540

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Stargazing Live viewer discovers new planet
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Astronomical history was made on BBC2 last night when a Stargazing Live viewer discovered a new planet.

Initiating a public push to find worlds beyond our solar system, the series has led to instant results.

The new planet was discovered by amateur star spotter Chris Holmes on site planethunters.org, and appears to be circling a star dubbed SPH10066540.

It is described as being similar in size to Neptune, but thought to be too hot to sustain any life.

Planethunters hosts data gathered by Nasa’s Kepler telescope, and asks volunteers to hunt for anything unusual that might have otherwise been missed by computer searches.

Though the public participation project was launched last year, volunteers have tripled to more than 100,000 people after it was featured in the BBC2 series on Monday.

"I've never 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," Mr Holmes told BBC News.

"Being involved in a project like this and actually being the one to find something is a very exciting position."

Stargazing Live, hosted by scientist Brian Cox and TV presenter Dara O Briain, has already featured a partial solar eclipse and a discussion with the International Space Station.

It has sparked an interest in space for millions of viewers.

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