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RCA General Meeting: Another Pale Blue Dot — Inside the SETI Institute’s Search for Exoplanets

  • OMSI 1945 Southeast Water Avenue Portland, OR, 97214 (map)
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Dr Franck Marchis , Senior Planetary Astronomer, Exoplanet Research Group Director, SETI  Institute  and co-founder & Chief Scientific Officer at Unistellar

In only two decades, we have gone from the mere speculation about planets beyond our solar system (“exoplanets) to being able to observe them through a variety of methods. Dr. Franck Marchis, Senior Planetary Astronomer at the SETI Institute will discuss new and sophisticated projects which aim to image directly those exoplanets.  Future instruments could soon deliver an image of a cousin of Earth, or another Pale Blue Dot, a planet similar to our own. His talk will be followed by a demo of the Unistellar eVscope, an innovative digital telescope developed in partnership with the SETI Institute.


What is Unistellar? Unistellar’s Enhanced Vision Telescope is the first telescope that accumulates light so the user can finally see hundreds of faint astronomical objects in all their shapes and colors live through its lens. Because classical high end telescopes only allow the user to see the four main planets, this technology will radically transform amateur astronomy. Relying on its on-board computer, the telescope also recognizes the observed area and can guide and inform the user in real time.

Unistellar telescopes are also a powerful tool that generates useful data about transient events like supernovae, near-earth asteroids and comets. A partnership with the SETI Institute has been initiated to identify and develop these applications so any user, newbie or expert, will be able to learn while contributing to science. With Unistellar, finally, you’ll see! 


Dr. Franck Marchis is a Senior Scientist and Exoplanet Research Thrust Chair at the SETI Institute and Chief Scientific Officier at Unistellar.  Franck earned his Phd in Astrophysics at the Université Paul Sabatier, France,  in 2000.  He is a planetary astronomer with 22 years of experience in academic, international and non-profit scientific institutions and has conducted multiple research projects in a wide range of areas.   He is best known for his discovery and characterization of multiple asteroids, his study of Io volcanism and imaging of exoplanets, planets around other stars.   Today, Marchis dedicates most of his energy to instruments capable of imaging and characterizing Earth-like exoplanets by being involved in education, public outreach, technology, and scientific investigations related to those ambitious projects both in the United States and in Europe. Marchis is also involved in startups related to astronomy so he is a co-founder of Unistellar and its Chief Scientific Officer as well as scientific advisor of VR2Planets and NellyBenHayoun Studios.

In April 2007, the asteroid numbered 1989SO8 was named “(6639) Marchis” in honor of his work in the field of multiple asteroids.  He has also been a consultant and interviewee in several science documentaries for the Science channel, BBC, ARTE and news media in English, French and Spanish.




Later Event: April 20
Astro-Imaging Class