Transit Visibility Zones of the Solar System Planets

R. Wells, K. Poppenhaeger, C. A. Watson, René Heller

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The detection of thousands of extrasolar planets by the transit method naturally raises the question of whether potential extrasolar observers could detect the transits of the Solar System planets. We present a comprehensive analysis of the regions in the sky from where transit events of the Solar System planets can be detected. We specify how many different Solar System planets can be observed from any given point in the sky, and find the maximum number to be three. We report the probabilities of a randomly positioned external observer to be able to observe single and multiple Solar System planet transits; specifically, we find a probability of 2.518% to be able to observe at least one transiting planet, 0.229% for at least two transiting planets, and 0.027% for three transiting planets. We identify 68 known exoplanets that have a favourable geometric perspective to allow transit detections in the Solar System and we show how the ongoing K2 mission will extend this list. We use occurrence rates of exoplanets to estimate that there are $3.2\pm1.2$ and $6.6^{+1.3}_{-0.8}$ temperate Earth-sized planets orbiting GK and M dwarf stars brighter than $V=13$ and $V=16$ respectively, that are located in the Earth's transit zone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-354
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date14 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2018


  • Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics


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