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Session 30 - Amateurs & Professionals: Collaborators in the New Age of Electronic Astronomy.
Display session, Tuesday, June 10
South Main Hall,
Back to The Future: Hunting Asteroids From The Backyard
The author will present the results of a search for asteroids using commercial hardware and software that is both readily available and affordable by today's amateur astronomers. Using modest CCD cameras attached to 11- and 16-inch telescopes at a suburban location less than 17 miles (28 kilometers) from the heart of metropolitan Boston, Massachusetts, the author has discovered more than 100 asteroids since beginning a systematic search in October 1995.
Technological advances in CCD cameras, computer software, and astrometric databases for reference stars and asteroids have made it easy to determine precise positions of asteroids as faint as 18th magnitude with modest-aperture amateur telescopes. After accidently discovering a small number of asteroids while doing routine astrometric work, the author began a dedicated search. A typical observing session consists of two to three hours effort and covers about one-third square degree of sky. Such a session usually yields three to five discoveries, and on only two occasions have no new objects been found. Identification of known objects and reporting of astrometric positions are made extremely easy using Internet-accessible sources and e-mail, respectively.
Program listing for Tuesday