Research Publication Title

Asteroid Observation and Lightcurve Plotting

Major

Physics

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Donovan Domingue

Keywords

Asteroid, Lightcurve, Astronomy, Observing, Astrophysics, Cosmology

Abstract

We tracked asteroids with magnitudes ranging from 13.0-14.9 and with known or unknown periods over the course of two semesters. The aim of this research was to plot a lightcurve for each asteroid observed, and to find the period of each asteroid with an unknown period. Finding the lightcurve of an asteroid is important as it can be used to determine the asteroid's shape and period, assuming the period is unknown. Each asteroid was observed on at least two different nights for several hours, and pictures were taken over the course of each night. Exposure times varied from thirty to sixty seconds depending on the asteroid's intensity and weather conditions. We then used software to subtract the dark, bias, and flat from the observation image. The modified pictures were then used to compare the varying magnitude of the asteroid to the constant magnitude of the stars around it in order to plot a lightcurve.

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Asteroid Observation and Lightcurve Plotting

We tracked asteroids with magnitudes ranging from 13.0-14.9 and with known or unknown periods over the course of two semesters. The aim of this research was to plot a lightcurve for each asteroid observed, and to find the period of each asteroid with an unknown period. Finding the lightcurve of an asteroid is important as it can be used to determine the asteroid's shape and period, assuming the period is unknown. Each asteroid was observed on at least two different nights for several hours, and pictures were taken over the course of each night. Exposure times varied from thirty to sixty seconds depending on the asteroid's intensity and weather conditions. We then used software to subtract the dark, bias, and flat from the observation image. The modified pictures were then used to compare the varying magnitude of the asteroid to the constant magnitude of the stars around it in order to plot a lightcurve.