November Asteroid Program

Overview

Dear Citizen Astronomers,

Brace yourself for a great December Asteroid Month, we have pretty exciting news to come very soon!

In the meantime, why don’t you try to observe a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) 500 meters large, hence a reasonably big one, 2000 WO107 will flyby on the 29th of November at a mere 11 lunar distance, which is enough to keep us safe on Earth while making a good opportunity to study it. Here is the link about HowTo make a NEA observation.

For European users, and especially if you are in the UK, we suggest you take a look at the stephaniebarnes asteroid occultation. Why ? Because it was named to honor one of the lead engineers of the OSIRIS-Rex mission, the one which very recently collected a sample of asteroid Bennu, with the intent to bring it back to Earth on September 2023. Here is the link about HowTo make an asteroid occultation observation

Clear skies,

The Unistellar Citizen Science Team

 

Click here to find out if an occultation will happen near your location!

After you’ve participated in an occultation campaign, we invite you to fill out this form in function of your zone : USA form, Europe form. It will enable us to take your observations into account more easily.

Unistellar is also launching a beta Planetary Defense program, check out the dedicated section to find out how you can participate.

Are you willing to contribute to citizen science with your eVscope for one of these campaigns? Please send us an email at citizenscience@unistellaroptics.com

Watch asteroid 2000 UD52 occulting a bright star

Dear Citizen Astronomers,

Enjoy our new asteroid program. Take your chance and maybe, like Mario, in Austria, you will be able to say “I caught an asteroid!!!”

Occultations: What are they? Why observe them?

  • What is an occultation?

It is an astronomical event defined by the passage of an object in front of a star. The star is completely or partially obscured.

  • Why observe them?

To participate in scientific missions that study the asteroids around us and perhaps help discover the origins of life!

If you have participated to an occultation campaign, please fill out the attached form here :

For Europe : Lien vers le formulaire - Link to the form

For North America : Link to the form

Capture d’écran 2020-12-08 à 16.08.19

When, where and what parameters?

1991TF1 (on the night of December 14th to 15th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
1991TF1 Main-Belt On the night December 14th to 15th 22:46 WET* 23:46 CET* 30° S Monoceros Portugal, Spain, France, Italy etc Map

For your information :

WET* concerned UK and Portugal

CET* concerned France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland etc…

Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
1991TF1 07h 28m 05s -02° 23' 08" 500 ms 45 dB 06m30s

930 Westphalia (on the night of December 14th to 15th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
930 Westphalia Main-belt On the night December 14th to 15th 21:06 WET* 22:06 CET* 65° 0 Pisces France, Belgium, UK etc Map

For your information :

WET* concerned UK and Portugal

CET* concerned France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland etc…

Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
930 Westphalia 01h 24m 46s +31° 04' 42" 500 ms 45 dB 05m00s

2002RC184 (on the night of December 15th to 16th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
2002RC184 Main-Belt On the night December 15th to 16th 00:47 CET 45° O Triangulum Spain, France, Germany etc Map

For your information :

WET* concerned UK and Portugal

CET* concerned France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland etc…

Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
2002RC184 02h 37m 59s +35° 35' 46" 200 ms 40 dB 03m30s

2587 Gardner (on the night of December 15th to 16th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
2587 Gardner Main-belt On the night December 15th to 16th 20:54* WET 21:54 CET* 35° O Pisces Portugal, Spain, France, Germany etc Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
2587 Gardner 01h 09m 30s +04° 38' 33" 500 ms 40 dB 09m00s

1997WK45 (on the night of December 17th to 18th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
1997WK45 Main-Belt On the night December 17th to 18th 19:23 WET* 20:23 CET* 40° E-S Gemini Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Asutria etc Map

For your information :

WET* concerned UK and Portugal

CET* concerned France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland etc…

Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
1997WK45 07h 21m 27s +23° 42' 09" 200 ms 40 dB 03m30s

2009WY245 (on the night of December 17th to 18th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
2009WY245 Jupiter Trojan On the night December 17th to 18th 19:33 WET* 20:33 CET* 65° S-O Triangulum Spain, France, Netherlands, UK, Sweden etc Map

For your information :

WET* concerned UK and Portugal

CET* concerned France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland etc…

Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
2009WY245 01h 58m 42s +26° 49' 12" 200 ms 35 dB 04m30s
Capture d’écran 2020-12-08 à 16.11.40

When, where and what parameters?

746 Marlu (on the night of December 12nd to 13rd)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
746 Marlu Main Belt On the night of December 12nd to 13rd 00:25 23:28 22:30 21:32 Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
746 Marlu 03h 42m 36s +42° 40' 18" 500 ms 45 dB 05m00s

8136 Landis (on the night of December 6th to 7th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
8136 Landis Main Belt On the night of December 14th to 15th 22:32 21:35 20:37 19:38 Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
8136 Landis 06h 40m 50s +17° 57' 27" 300 ms 50 dB 05m00s

1365 Henyey (on the night of December 15th to 16th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
1365 Henyey Main Belt On the night of December 15th to 16th 23:54 22:59 22:02 21:04 Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
1365 Henyey 06h 54m 15s +20° 25' 09" 200 ms 40 dB 07m30s

4618 Shakhovskoj (on the night of December 15th to 16th)

Asteroid NameDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
4618 Shakhovskoj On the night of December 15th to 16th 21:34 20:42 19:46 18:47 Map
Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
4618 Shakhovskoj Main-Belt 07h 10m 12s +42° 42' 30" 500 ms 45 dB 10m30s

2001RF11 (on the night of December 16th to 17th)

Asteroid NameDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
2001RF11 On the night of December 16th to 17th 20:30 19:23 18:17 17:12 Map
Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
2001RF11 Main-Belt 00h 58m 39s +10° 14' 23" 500 ms 40 dB 10m30s

326 Tamara (on the night of December 10th to 11st)

Asteroid NameDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
326 Tamara On the night of December 16th to 17th 23:35 22:38 21:47 21:10 Map
Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
326 Tamara Main-Belt 01h 08m 54s +12° 49' 56" 500 ms 45 dB 03m30s
Capture d’écran 2020-12-08 à 16.10.18

326 Tamara (on the night of December 10th to 11st)

Asteroid NameDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
326 Tamara On the night of December 16th to 17th 23:35 22:38 21:47 21:10 Map
Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
326 Tamara Main-Belt 01h 08m 54s +12° 49' 56" 500 ms 45 dB 03m30s

"What a Feeling:" A Testimonial from an Occultation's Detector

Here is what Morand, one of Unistellar’s first citizen astronomers, wrote about his detection of asteroid 2000 UD52:

When I received this occultation “mission”, I was a little confused. It seemed quite simple, the event was known, so no chance discovery by amateurs … But hey, I played the game. I had just received the telescope.

Excited but a little late as always, I followed the procedure and … I saw nothing … However, I sent the data. And, a few days later, I learned that the occultation was clearly visible on the data, that I was the only Unistellar to have observed it, and that the scientific value was real : the occultation was very brief, 0.3s (the predicted maximum was 0.8s), therefore particularly difficult considering the small size of the asteroid (~ 6.6 km) and the width of its centrality band.

Having observers near and into the centrality band will allow to better determine the position of the asteroid, and therefore to refine its orbit ! What a feeling !

Unistellar_Morand

"What a Feeling:" A Testimonial from an Occultation's Detector

Here is what Morand, one of Unistellar’s first citizen astronomers, wrote about his detection of asteroid 2000 UD52:

When I received this occultation “mission”, I was a little confused. It seemed quite simple, the event was known, so no chance discovery by amateurs … But hey, I played the game. I had just received the telescope.

Excited but a little late as always, I followed the procedure and … I saw nothing … However, I sent the data. And, a few days later, I learned that the occultation was clearly visible on the data, that I was the only Unistellar to have observed it, and that the scientific value was real : the occultation was very brief, 0.3s (the predicted maximum was 0.8s), therefore particularly difficult considering the small size of the asteroid (~ 6.6 km) and the width of its centrality band.

Having observers near and into the centrality band will allow to better determine the position of the asteroid, and therefore to refine its orbit ! What a feeling !

Unistellar_Morand

HowTo observe a NEA ?

To observe this flyby, you need to calculate by yourself, the ephemeris.

An ephemeris ? What is it ?

It is a table or a data file which give you the position of a celestial event in function of the time. Thanks to it, you can know where is the asteroid when you want to observe.

For doing that :

  1. Compute the ephemeris from your location with : https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/horizons.cgi. You can watch this tutorial video: https://youtu.be/K8lNw7UpueI if you need help.
  2. On the Unistellar application : In the “Explore” menu, click on “Asteroid occultation” mode. At the bottom, you have the possibility to enter the coordinates of the asteroid. Here, enter what the ephemeris gave you and do not forget to click on “GoTo”.
  3. Start enhanced vision 10 min before and for 20 min.
  4. At the end take dark frames  with the Science menu. Set the parameters as 25db3971ms time exposure – duration 02m00s.
  5. Send us a LOG with your evscope ID, city, your ephemeris table, time of the ephemeris / radec selected, and the time you did the dark frame at citizenscience@unistellaroptics.com.

 

HowTo observe an occultation ?

Check this complete how to guide on how to catch one with your Unistellar eVscope.

Before the occultation :

✔️ Check the weather
We suggest you use the clearoutside app or website.
(see p.13 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Clear the memory of your eVscope
WARNING : this step can take up to 30 minutes – 2 hours depending on your Internet connection.
(p.7 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Charge the battery of your eVscope

✔️ Look for updates the Unistellar application (Apple and Android stores).

An hour before the occultation begins:

✔️ Level the tripod and install your eVscope
Turn it on, connect it to your phone and you are ready to start !
(see p.16 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Check the accuracy of the time on your phone
Use the Time.is website : https://time.is/
(see p.9 in the User Manual link)

Capture a screenshot of your phone

✔️ Connect your phone to the eVscope and launch the application 

The application will synchronize its time on your phone, so it is important you start the application AFTER having used time.is as indicates here.

✔️ Launch Autonomous Field Detection
So that your eVscope knows precisely how to go to the occulted star.
(see p.18 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Focus
By pointing one of the first stars recommended by the app and using the Bahtinov Mask.
(see p.23 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Optional step : collimation
If your stars look like “potatoes” and have elongated shape, you need to collimate your  mirror.
Check then this article from our FAQ : https://unistellaroptics.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360002267334-Collimation
(see p.21 in the User Manual link)

 

In the “Target” field enter the RA/DEC parameters and press GOTO 15 min before the beginning of the occultation.

In the “recording” tab enter the Gain, Exposure and Duration parameters, check again your values and click on “Launch” at the start time.

 

Note: Once the recording has started, you can now switch back to the eVscope tab in order to try to see the occultation in real time. Please note that this is a really difficult event to catch on camera.

Do not activate Enhanced Vision during recording: it will damage your data.

🏡 Once at home :

✔️ Transfer your data

Once recording is over, please transfer your data. (If you need help please check : https://help.unistellar.com/hc/en-us/articles/360013803619-eVscope-Data-Storage-Memory-Downloading-and-Uploading-Data )

✔️ Tell Unistellar that you participated
To make sure your contribution is properly processed, please fill out this very short survey by telling us your name, the serial number of your eVscope and if you agree that your name can be mentioned in the EURASTER report on their website (keep in mind to prove the accuracy of your observation, its GPS coordinates will be published too).

Other citizen science campaigns

Find out about Unistellar’s next citizen science campaigns in Europe and North America, and take a look at previous campaigns.

Results

Detections and observations of asteroid occultations coming from the Unistellar network are published on the Euraster website:

– Detection confimed for asteroid 2000 UD52

– Observation of asteroid 2011 KT19

– Observation of asteroid Cebriones

Planetary Defense Mission

Join our Planetary Defense Mission for December!

Your target this month is the newly discovered near-Earth asteroid (NEA) 2020 SO. It flew by Earth on December 1st and came about 13% of the distance between Earth and our Moon! (31,000 miles or 50,000 kilometers away)

This is a fascinating target for December because of the uncertainty surrounding its origin, and the fact that its orbit may have considerably changed after its flyby.

2020 SO is a challenging target! To observe it, you will need to:

  • Compute the ephemeris with JPL Horizons: https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi
    (Watch this tutorial about JPL Horizons: https://youtu.be/K8lNw7UpueI)
  • Check if the asteroid is visible from your location
  • Point to the target using the Advanced Go To at the bottom of the Explore Menu
  • Start Enhanced Vision for 20 minutes (10 minutes before the date of the ephemeris and 10 minutes after)
  • At the end, please take dark frames with the science mode:
    3971ms – 25db – 02min00s
  • Write in your LOG the ephemeris (date + Ra Dec) you used

Together we are contributing to astronomical discovery!

If you have any questions, please contact us at citizenscience@unistellaroptics.com.

Send an email to citizenscience@unistellaroptics.com to let us know that you have observed, including your LOG and ephemeris table.

 

Clear skies! 🔭

SETI/Unistellar Planetary Defense Team