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INTERNATIONAL ASTEROID SEARCH CAMPAIGN Internet-Based Asteroid Search Program for High Schools & Colleges J. Patrick Miller, Department of Mathematics,

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Presentation on theme: "INTERNATIONAL ASTEROID SEARCH CAMPAIGN Internet-Based Asteroid Search Program for High Schools & Colleges J. Patrick Miller, Department of Mathematics,"— Presentation transcript:

1 INTERNATIONAL ASTEROID SEARCH CAMPAIGN Internet-Based Asteroid Search Program for High Schools & Colleges J. Patrick Miller, Department of Mathematics, Hardin-Simmons University Jeffrey W. Davis, Honors Program, Hardin-Simmons University Carlton R. Pennypacker, Hands-On Universe, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Graeme L. White, Centre for Astronomy, James Cook University

2 The International Asteroid Search Campaign (IASC = Isaac) is a program for high schools and colleges. Centered at Hardin-Simmons University (Abilene, TX) and provided at no cost to the participating schools, IASC is an educational outreach program in conjunction with Hands-On Universe. Working with their teachers, students analyze real-time astronomical images, searching for unknown asteroids. The students are officially recognized as measurers and discoverers by the Minor Planet Center (Harvard) and the International Astronomical Union. IASC is a collaborative effort of the Astronomical Research Institute (Charleston, IL), Lawrence Hall of Science (Hands-On Universe, UC Berkeley), Astrometrica (H. Raab, Austria), and Hardin-Simmons University.

3 The seeds for IASC began in June 2006 at the Hands-On Universe annual meeting held at the Yerkes Observatory (University of Chicago). At that meeting, the participating teachers expressed a need for an on-going program in astronomy and astrophysics that allowed them access to real-time images for analysis by their students. This expressed need and the networking of professionals, amateurs, and educators at the Yerkes meeting led directly to the creation of IASC. Yerkes Observatory (University of Chicago)

4 During the first year of IASC, three 30-day campaigns were conducted. October-November 2006 with 5 participating schools February-March 2007 campaign had 15 participating schools April-May 2007 campaign with 17 participating schools Type of School # of Schools # of States High Schools (U.S.) 1913 Community Colleges 63 Universities32 High Schools (Intl.) 42 High Schools (U.S.): AK, AZ, CA, IL, KS, MA, NC, NH, OK, RI, TX, UT, VA Community Colleges: NC, OK, TX Universities: MS, TX High Schools (Intl.): Poland, Russia

5 CCD images are taken on clear, Moonless-nights by the Astronomical Research Institute (Charleston, IL). Using a 0.81-m prime focus telescope, a set of three images is taken along the ecliptic within one hour. The Astronomical Research Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation performing research in astronomy and public outreach programs for student research.

6 Astronomical Research Observatory 32" Control Room

7 Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory Chile 4-m Victor M. Blanco Telescope

8 On the next morning, the images are downloaded at Hardin-Simmons University, checked for clarity, and placed onto HSU Blackboard.

9 Within two days, the schools download the images and the students analyze them for moving objects.

10 Using Astrometrica, the students run the moving object utility followed by a deep search into the images with blink utility.

11 From their analyses, reports are prepared and sent to Hardin-Simmons University. After validation of the reports, the confirmed new asteroid discoveries are reported to the Astronomical Research Institute (ARI). The Minor Planet Center requires a follow-up image within 7 days of an original discovery, which is taken by the ARI. A successful follow-up image results in official recognition of the discovery by the Minor Planet Center and the International Astronomical Union.

12 Discovery of KO7C54V by a student at the Center for Theoretical Physics (Poland)

13 Asteroid discovery by Ranger High School (TX) during Region 14 workshop Asteroid discovery by Loraine High School (TX) during Region 14 workshop K07B50G K07B72X

14 Rare triple asteroid discovery by students at Meredith College (NC) K07C51J

15 Blink of the Triple Asteroid Discovery

16 During the first year, the schools participating in IASC discovered: 36 new asteroids, officially recognized by the IAU 197 NEO confirmations 1 comet confirmation


18 IASC Program Flow Diagram Astronomical Research Institute Hardin-Simmons University Astrometrica ARI HSU & AstrometricaMinor Planet Center (Harvard)

19 IASC Teacher Training Sessions Teacher training for IASC was done primarily online, using the Internet. Instructions were prepared for installation of the software Astrometrica and a step-by-step guide written for the teachers to practice finding asteroids. For the search campaigns, two workshops were presented for the teachers: January 2007Region 14 Annual Conference (13 Texas counties, 161 schools) February 2007Dallas County Community College District University of North Texas (Denton, TX) - Brookhaven College - Richland College - East Field College - Mountain View College

20 IASC Teacher Training Sessions For the search campaigns, the online training will continue with additional workshops planned: June 2007HOU Annual Conference (Yerkes Observatory) July 2007GHOU Annual Conference (National Observatory of Japan) September 2007Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne, FL) September 2007Tarrant County Community College District January 2008Region 14 Annual Conference March 2008NASA Johnson Space Center (Houston, TX)

21 Future Plans for the IASC IASC = International Asteroid Search Campaign The goal is to establish an ongoing educational outreach program centered at Hardin-Simmons University in conjunction with Hands-On Universe (Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley). Provided at no cost to high schools and colleges, the program will allow students to make original astronomical discoveries recognized by the International Astronomical Union. Astronomical

22 For the academic year, a pilot SNe search campaign is being planned. Here are unsuspecting students at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory working on mastering techniques for this pilot campaign (May-term 2007). Jeff Davis Hardin-Simmons University Holly Ann Fidler Hardin-Simmons University Dominic Juliano Hardin-Simmons University Martha Ragwar Jackson State University Tylvia Edwards Jackson State University Fran Smith Jackson State University Cary Smith Jackson State University Sarah Frances Jackson State University

23 Searches for Supernovae (SNe) and Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) Anonymous galaxy in the cluster Abell 1066 January 26, 2006 Anonymous galaxy in the cluster Abell 1066 February 29, 2006 SN 2006al Holmes & Devore Subtraction of the two images using the Alard method. Program written by J. Patrick Miller, Hardin-Simmons University.

24 An SNe search campaign needs to last at least 60 days, preferably a full semester, as these events are more rare and difficult to identify than asteroids. Teacher training is the key issue…but cannot be done online as easily as the training in the use of Astrometrica to find asteroids. A pilot program with 3-5 teachers is planned for October-December 2007, with one of the teachers being fully knowledgeable in the analysis of image sets. After one campaign, the new teachers who have been trained will be put in charge of their own group of 3-5 teachers, training them to search for and identify supernovae in future campaigns. In time, IASC will develop a large group of well-trained and qualified teachers who will guide their students in successful SNe search campaigns.

25 Test Alard Subtractions 0.61-m Prime Focus Telescope Astronomical Research Institute Abell 2199 June 21, 2007 Alard Subtraction Constant Kernel Alard Subtraction 1 st Degree Kernel

26 Searches for Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) Subtraction of the two images using the Alard method. Program written by J. Patrick Miller, Hardin-Simmons University. KBO Varuna January 11, 2007 Varuna

27 2.5-m INT Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma, Spain Site of the Varuna Images

28 During IASC, the Astronomical Research Institute took KBO test images anticipating possible future KBO search campaigns. These were taken using the 0.81-m prime focus telescope. At Hardin-Simmons we were never successful in finding any of the KBO targets. KBO search campaigns remain a work in progress.

29 Searches for Comets Subtraction of the two images using the Alard method. Program written by J. Patrick Miller, Hardin-Simmons University. Comet September 17, 2006

30 Mike Fords Group Elk Creek Observatory Holton High School Holton, KS 20" Internet-Accessible Telescope Some discussions have been held with Mike Ford, Holton High School (Holton, KS) about conducting a pilot comet search campaign and providing follow-up images of asteroid discoveries made by the 0.81-m telescope at the Astronomical Research Institute. Also, discussions are underway to equip the Elk Creek 16" with Internet-accessibility as part of a network to provide the 161 schools of Region 14 (Texas) with the use of these telescopes in their classrooms and labs (elementary through middle school through high school). The 20" might be available to conduct research programs with interscholastic teams of high school students.

31 PLANS BEGINNING TO TAKE SHAPE FOR IASC The Astronomical Research Institute was recently funded by the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) to conduct follow-up imaging of near-Earth objects for the Minor Planet Center. ARI will use its 0.81-m prime focus telescope for this 3-year program. IASC (Hardin-Simmons University) will work in a collaborative project with the University of North Texas, University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University, and Cape Fear High School to process the time-critical NEO image sets. The NEO image sets that are not time-critical will be form the basis of asteroid and comet search campaigns offered through IASC. Abell galaxy cluster image sets will be used the pilot supernovae search campaign, using the 0.61-m prime focus ARI telescope.

32 IASC (10-15 Schools) University of Illinois Eastern Illinois University Cape Fear High School Astronomical Research Institute Collaboration to Process Time-Critical NEO Image Sets University of North Texas IASC SNe Pilot Search Campaign IASC Asteroid & Comet Search Campaigns Process Non-Time-Critical NEO & Abell Galaxy Cluster Image Sets

33 IASC & BEYOND EuROPA = Educational Reach-Out Programs in Astronomy International Astronomical Search Campaigns Internet-Accessible NetworkIntercollegiate Research Texas Region 14 Project Astronomical Research Methods Interscholastic Research Teams

34 Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank Robert Holmes, Astronomical Research Institute, for his night- after-night efforts to provide real-time images using the 0.81-m prime focus telescope. Harlan Devore and his students at Cape Fear High School (Fayetteville, NC) provided back- up image analyses. Curtis Craig and his students at American Fork High School (American Fork, UT) provided back-up image analyses. Dr. Chris Smith, National Optical Astronomical Observatory, for his access to CTIO images. Dr. Chris McNair, Dean of the Holland School of Science & Mathematics (Hardin- Simmons University), for financial and staffing support. Students of the May-term 2006 and 2007 Astronomical Research Methods course at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for testing methodology used by the participating schools.

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