During 1995, Guinan and McCook initiated a photometry program to search for Jupiter-size planets that could possibly orbit around some nearby stars. This research program is being conducted with the Fairborn-Villanova 0.8M APT at Mt. Hopkins, Arizona in collaboration with J. Schneider of Meudon Obs. (Fr.). The detection of the planet is made photometrically, by searching for the dimming of the host star by a planetary transit eclipse. For an occcultation to be seen, it necessary that the orbital plane of the planet-star be seen almost exactly edge-on. Several uncomplicated eclipsing binary systems, whose orbital planes are aligned nearly edge-on have been selected for photometric scrutiny. It is assumed that if planets orbit the close binary that their orbital planes will be coplanar with the binary system and that planetary transits of the stars will eventually occur. It turns out that the best test cases for a planetary system are in the eclipsing M5 V + M5 V eclipsing binary CM Draconis. This system was selected because the component stars have radii only two to three times larger than a Jovian-planet and that a planetary transit would produce an easily detected 10-25% decrease in brightness.
Starting in May 1995, photoelectic photometry of CM Dra was conducted at Mt Hopkins. The system was observed differentially in the V,R and I bands, relative to a nearby comparison and check stars. Continuous differential photometry was carried out on about 35 nights so far. No obvious planetary transit events were detected thus far from this site. Observations of CM Dra from other sites at different longitudes were also made under the supervision of Schneider; these data have not yet been fully analyzed.
During 1995-96, Guinan and McCook plan a more intensive photometric monitoring of CM Dra along with several other uncomplicated eclipsing binary targets with orbital inclinations near . Undergraduate astronomy students James Marshall and Jamison Maley carried out the photomoetric reductions.