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Session 30 - Amateurs & Professionals: Collaborators in the New Age of Electronic Astronomy.
Display session, Tuesday, June 10
South Main Hall,

[30.10] TASS - The Amateur Sky Survey

T. F. Droege, C. Albertson, G. Gombert, M. Gutzwiller, N. W. Molhant, H. Johnson, J. Skvarc, R. J. Wickersham (TASS (Amateurs)), M. W. Richmond (Princeton University), P. Rybski (U of WI, Whitewater), A. Henden (USRA/USNO), N. Beser, M. Pittinger, B. Kluga (JHU APL (Amateurs))

As a non-astronomer watching Shoemaker/Levy 9 crash into Jupiter through postings on sci.astro, it occurred to me that it might be fun to build a comet finding machine. After wild speculations on how such a device might be built - I considered a 26" x 40" fresnel lens and a string of pin diodes -- postings to sci.astro brought me down to earth. I quickly made contact with both professionals and amateurs and found that there was interesting science to be done with an all sky survey. After several prototype drift scan cameras were built using various CCDs, I determined the real problem was software.

How does one get the software written for an all sky survey? Willie Sutton could tell you, "Go where the programmers are." Our strategy has been to build a bunch of drift scan cameras and just give them away (without software) to programmers found on the Internet. This author reports more success by this technique than when he had a business and hired and paid programmers at a cost of a million or so a year.

To date, 22 drift scan cameras have been constructed. Most of these are operated as triplets spaced 15 degrees apart in Right Ascension and with I, V, I filters. The cameras use 135mm fl, f.2.8 camera lenses for a plate scale of 14 arc seconds per pixel and reach magnitude 13. With 512 pixels across the drift scan direction and running through the night, a triplet will collect 200 Mb of data on three overlapping areas of 3 x 120 degrees each. To date four of the triplets and one single have taken data.

Production has started on 25 second generation cameras using 2k x 2k devices and a barn door mount.

Program listing for Tuesday