The discovery of Jupiter-like planets orbiting nearby stars began at Lick Observatory in 1995. These discoveries have spawned a race for detection of lower mass planets more like our Earth. We propose to dramatically improve the world-renowned planet search at Lick Observatory by constructing the first Automated Planet Finder (APF). This facility will consist of a 2.5-meter class automated telescope and enclosure, and a high-resolution spectrograph. The telescope and spectrograph, used nightly without alteration, will enable an unprecedented precision of 1 m/s. It will permit detection fo rocky planets having mass as low as 10 Earth masses close to the host star. The proven Doppler technique at Lick currently labors with the over-subscribed 3-meter telescope, for which only about 20 nights are available for planet-hunting each year. The new APF telescope will target nearby stars and observe them every night for months to detect the lowest possible Doppler wobble, and hence the lowest possible planet mass.
You can observe the progress of the construction of the dome by clicking here.