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S Larson, J Brownlee, C Hergenrother, T Spahr (LPL/Univ. Arizona)
We are bringing into operation a wide-field near-earth object detection system at the Catalina Observatory north of Tucson. A Lockheed 4k x 4k CCD has replaced the plate holder in the 42/68 cm Schmidt telescope providing an 8.3 square degree field with 2.5 arcsec pixels. Telescope pointing, guiding and sequencing is under computer control. The data acquisition and reduction is carried out with a networked "farm" of 6 computers running the Linux OS. CCD control is through IRAF/ICE, and most image reduction is carried out in the IRAF environment. Stationary background objects are mostly eliminated by differencing average and median coadded images from multiple "visits" to the same field. Candidate objects are flagged from the list of remaining objects by velocity matching and visually checked before reporting to the Minor Planet Center. We will show sample images and demonstration of the reduction algorithm.
This work has been supported by NASA Planetary Astronomy Program grant NAG5-4049