Discovering Asteroids from Home
Norman Falla - Going beyond Magnitude 21
Norman Falla lives in the outer suburbs of London, England and loves astronomy.
He has his own telescope (an Orion Optics 300 mm Newtonian) which he has used mainly for lunar and planetary imaging and in recent years his interest has broadened to include asteroid discovery. There is only a slight problem. Light pollution levels of suburban London made it difficult for him to reach the magnitude 19 levels at which most new discoveries are made.
Norman found a way to enjoy clear Northern and Southern skies when he joined GRAS a few years ago. Here is his experience:
I found the telescope operation to be amazingly simple. All I had to log in and enter the RA and Dec coordinates and the required exposure time and then click on the “Acquire Image” button. Rock-steady tracking and crisp focusing all happened automatically and at the end of each exposure I could view the image obtained.
At the end of my observing session my images were sent to my personal file on the GRAS server from where I could download them to my own computer.
As I became more experienced in using the telescope, I realized the one great feature of the GRAS facility is the real-time support that Arnie can give you via Skype. On the rare occasions when I had a problem Arnie would always be there to make the necessary adjustments to the system and get me back on track.
Recently Norman had some exciting news to share with GRAS:
Just to say thanks again for all your help over the past few days. As a result I have been able to update the positions of two of my discoveries, one at magnitude 21.5 and the other at 21.6. The only southern hemisphere professional observatory currently reporting asteroid positions (the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia) has a limiting magnitude of about 20 and consequently would not have detected these two objects.
Yellow arrow pointing at: Asteroid 2009 HF36
Now is great time for anyone interested in Astronomy to try Global Rent-A-Scope's free trial membership. Registration does not require a credit card or any commitment from you.