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Session 41 - Visible & UV Telescopes.
Display session, Thursday, January 08
Exhibit Hall,

[41.18] ``Hands-Free'' Asteroid Astrometry

A. K. B. Monet (USNO Flagstaff), E. Bowell (Lowell Obs.), D. G. Monet (USNO Flagstaff)

How do you undertake a major new astrometric program with no additional financial or personnel resources? The answer: automation! Early in 1992, the authors began a collaboration to obtain astrometric positions for several classes of asteroids (V_lim \sim 17.5 mag) whose orbits required improvement or that were otherwise of special interest. The telescope used for this work is the USNOFS 0.2-meter transit telescope, equipped with a CCD camera. The operation of this instrument has been fully automated (Stone, et al.1996, AJ,111\rm, 1721. Nightly observing rosters are constructed from a ranked listing of all asteroids of interest, prepared each month by Bowell. In a typical month, about 200 observations are made, although this number can range from 0 to over 400. Reductions are done automatically as well. A typical 10-hr nightly run can be fully reduced in less than 1/2 hr. Reductions are made on a frame-by-frame basis and positions of the asteroids computed with respect to the USNO-A1.0 catalog (Monet, D.G. 1996, USNO-A1.0 Catalog -- 10 CD-ROM Set, US Naval Observatory.) Observational quality is checked by Bowell, who also recomputes orbits and reports final results to the Minor Planet Center. Orbit residuals hover around 0.3 arcsec. This poster will present a brief overview of the observing and analysis methods, an account of the first five years of results, and a description of planned improvements in instrumentation and analysis techniques.

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