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 2020-08-21 à 12.29.00

When, where and what parameters?

1167 Dubiago (on the night of November 27th to 28th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
1167 Dubiago Main-Belt On the night November 27th to 28th 22:29 CET 40° S Taurus France, Germany etc Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
1167 Dubiago 05h 30m 13s +18° 46' 19" 500 ms 40 dB 03m30s

134039 Stephaniebarnes (on the night of December 1st to 2nd)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
134039 Stephaniebarnes Main-Belt On the night December 1st to 2nd 20:12 WET* 21:12 CET* 50° E-S Taurus UK, Norway, Sweden etc Map

For your information :

WET* concerned UK and Portugal

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

Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
134039 Stephaniebarnes 05h 58m 06s +27° 29' 32" 300 ms 50 dB 04m30s

1342 Brabantia (on the night of December 2nd to 3rd)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
1342 Brabantia Main-belt On the night December 2nd to 3rd 18:54 CET 55° E Perseus France, Germany, Danemark, Norway etc Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
1342 Brabantia 02h 43m 50s +49° 28' 53" 200 ms 40 dB 04m30s

3499 Hoppe (on the night of December 2nd to 3rd)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
3499 Hoppe Main-Belt On the night December 2nd to 3rd 21:44 WET* 22:44 CET* 35° S Gemini Portugal, Spain, France etc Map

For your information :

WET* concerned UK and Portugal

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

Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
3499 Hoppe 06h 20m 50s +20° 37' 03" 300 ms 50 dB 04m30s

556 Phyllis (on the night of December 2nd to 3rd)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
556 Phyllis Main-belt On the night December 2nd to 3rd 02:42 CET 55° S Gemini France, Germany, Czech Republic etc Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
556 Phyllis 06h 25m 46s +26° 33' 44" 500 ms 35 dB 08m00s

2983 Poltava (on the night of December 4th to 5th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateOccultation TimeAltDirectionConstellationWhere to Observe It?
2983 Poltava Main-Belt On the night December 4th to 5th 19:23 CET, for Spain : 19:33 40° E-S Pisces Spain, France, Germany, Danemark, Sweden etc Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
2983 Poltava 01h 43m 04s +13° 21' 31" 500 ms 45 dB 11m00s, for Spain: 03m00s
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Capture d’écran 2020-09-01 à 15.42.51

When, where and what parameters?

250 Bettina (on the night of November 27th to 28th)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
250 Bettina Main Belt On the night of November 27th to 28th 03:10 02:12 01:14 00:16 Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
250 Bettina 04h 25m 55s +36° 02' 42" 500 ms 30 dB 05m00s

380 Fiducia (on the night of November 30th to December 1st)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
380 Fiducia Main Belt On the night of November 30th to December 1st 05:06 04:08 03:11 02:13 Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
380 Fiducia 07h 11m 56s +22° 17' 43" 500 ms 45 dB 03m30s

2617 Jiangxi (on the night of November 30th to December 1st)

Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
2617 Jiangxi Main Belt On the night of November 30th December 1st 04:42 03:44 02:46 01:48 Map
Asteroid NameRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
2617 Jiangxi 04h 55m 10s +22° 24' 21" 500 ms 45 dB 03m00s

2813 Zappala (on the night of November 30th to December 1st)

Asteroid NameDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
2813 Zappala On the night of November 30th to December 1st 02:28 01:29 00:30 23:31 Map
Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
2813 Zappala Main-Belt 03h 06m 16s +15° 55' 28" 500 ms 45 dB 02m30s

283 Emma (on the night of December 1st to 2nd)

Asteroid NameDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
283 Emma On the night of December 1st to 2nd 03:51 02:52 01:54 00:55 Map
Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
283 Emma Main-Belt 04h 54m 30s +31° 55' 59" 500 ms 45 dB 02m30s

522 Helga (on the night of December 3rd to 4th)

Asteroid NameDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
522 Helga On the night of December 3rd to 4th 22:10 21:12 20:13 19:14 Map
Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
522 Helga Main-Belt 05h 27m 02s +19° 31' 12" 500 ms 35 dB 03m30s

640 Brambilla (on the night of December 4th to 5th)

Asteroid NameDateTime Launch (EST)Time Launch (CST)Time Launch (MST)Time launch (PST)Where to observe it?
640 Brambilla On the night of December 4th to 5th 21:26 No No No Map
Asteroid NameAsteroid TypeRADecExposure TimeGainDuration
640 Brambilla Main-Belt 00h 40m 37s +12° 16' 16" 500 ms 45 dB 07m00s

"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 Program (beta)

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