astrobites is a superb blog run by astronomy graduate students who post short summaries of recent papers on their website. Imitation is the best form of flattery and so we are going to imitate the blog but focus just on planets, hence the name planetbites!

Your task will be to post on this blog page your own summary of a recent (generously defined as the last 5 years) scientific peer-reviewed paper about “planets” either within the Solar System or beyond. By “planets”, I am being quite broad and including anything directly related to a planetary system, such as (but not exclusive to)…

  • Exoplanet detection
  • Exoplanet characterization
  • Moons, rings, trojans and other minor bodies in planetary systems
  • Astrobiology
  • Habitability
  • Effects of stars or environment on planets
  • Planetary interiors/dynamics

The only topic off-limits you might think of is a mission concept, since this has too much overlap with our last activity together. If you are unsure if your topic is appropriate, please ask me!

Your blog post should be 500-1000 words, include one or two figures with explanations, and written in the style of a typical astrobites article. (Some) example posts on planet-related stuff over at astrobites:

Logistics: you *should* have permission to post to this wordpress. You are free to post and edit as you see fit up to the date of submission 3rd April. At that date, I’ll print the blog off as a PDF so no further edits will affect the grading. The blogs are public so you can delete your post if you wish after this time or edit it to correct small mistakes.

Grading: This exercise is worth 8.5% of your final grade and should be completely independently. It’s OK if multiple people pick the same paper. If you plagiarize a blog summary from elsewhere, then you will receive no credit for this exercise. The grading rubric has been posted on CourseWorks, so please look there. Essentially I am looking for 1) conciseness 2) clear writing 3) teaching/summary quality of paper’s core concepts 4) technical accuracy. It is not expected that you fully understand all of the methods are details used. It is expected that you got what the main point of the paper was and can communicate broadly how the authors came to this conclusion.


  • Papers are archived at
  • Recent papers posted related to exoplanets can be viewed here:
  • Recent exoplanet bibliography maintained independently:

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