Kendra Sibbernsen, a physics teacher at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, successfully detected the occultation of asteroid Itha in November 2021 along with her students. An occultation is when an asteroid or other object passes in front of a star, giving observers a chance to learn more about what the object looks like. Each occultation gives astronomers new data on far-away objects.
In December 2021, Thusheeta Sivayogan, a professor at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her students detected the potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 LJ1. The asteroid is a target for planetary defense research because it passes close to Earth and there’s a chance it could one day threaten our planet. Observations like Sivayogan’s are helping scientists better understand the orbits of asteroids that could pose a threat to us, ultimately contributing to the safety of everyone on Earth.
Along with his students, Monterey Peninsula College professor Eric Hickok used his eVscope to observe the planetary defense target and near-Earth object 2001 SN263 in February and March of 2022. This 2.6 kilometer-wide object is the target of the upcoming ASTER mission by the Brazilian Space Agency.