Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Although I like to read a lot about studies of our solar system, my research focuses on stars and distant galaxies. So, despite havng done astronomy research for over a decade, today I submitted my first ever observations of asteroids.

I did not set out to find asteroids. My collaborators and I took many deep images of the star cluster M67 in order to find white dwarfs. But when I was comparing images, I noticed something moving slowly through the cluster. The stars are all much too far away to move noticeably in a night, so it had to be something in our solar system. So, for fun, I went to the Minor Planet Center website and entered the coordinates of the object. Yes, it was a known asteroid, but they wanted more data! So, I prepared my observations and sent them in. I'm still waiting for a reply, but this could take a few days.

I have discovered two asteroids in my images, and pictures of them are below. I've reversed the colors, so stars are black and the night sky is light (it is easier to see faint objects as black on white rather than white on black). The white bars are spaces between the silicon chips used to take the pictures. In each frame, north is to the right and east is up. These images were taken 45 minutes apart. The asteroids are the objects that move! The names are temporary designations used until the orbits are known well enough for the asteroid to get an official name. Hopefully my chance observations will help with that!

My asteroid pictures:

(Just kidding!)

2002 TF71

2004 BU85

No comments:

Post a Comment