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BAA Observing Sections

Asteroids & Remote Planets Section

As one of the BAA's observing sections, we aim to cover all aspects of those smaller Solar System objects termed asteroids, minor planets, dwarf planets, Centaurs, trans-Neptunian objects, Plutinos, near-Earth objects, plus more recently Exoplanets. Much of the Section's activities will be observation based, so this includes CCD/webcam imaging, astrometry, photometry, occultation monitoring and visual telescopic observation. However there are lots of other areas where you can participate as a Section Member such as those relating to the impact hazard, orbital motion, history of discovery and observation, evolution of the Solar System and spacecraft missions to such bodies to name a few.


That time has come when the nights are pulling in (for northern hemisphere observers!) and when we can usefully observe astronomical objects in a dark sky during an evening. I have prepared a target list of asteroids that I encourage you to image either using an unfiltered CCD camera, or one fitted with a Sloan r', Cousins R, or Johnson V photometric filter. It's your choice! The idea is to measure the magnitudes of each object with high accuracy. I can do the analyses if you wish - others out there do their own.

Listed below are the targets alongside their dates when they come to opposition. They are a mixture of objects - some are listed as part of our low phase angle studies, where we have a special interest in objects belonging to the Themis family of outer main-belt asteroids. Others have very slow rotation rates and we are making a study of these since they are a rather neglected class. Finally there are a few for which no accurate rotation period has been successfully determined - sometimes this is because they are relatively spherical in shape and so their lightcurve has a low amplitude:

The first two objects are the most urgent as they are due to come to opposition on September 07 and September 13.

(1247) Memoria reaches a very low phase angle and we shall be trying to catch it passing through that point in its orbit as seen from Earth when the opposition brightening effect will provide us a measure of the nature of its surface regolith, so please do try and do an observing run on the night of Tuesday 07/08 or the nights either side, weather permitting. Thanks - I look forward to receiving your observations.

N.B. I shall post results from observers as and when they are available.

Richard Miles


OBSERVING NOTE:  Recent observations of (4) Vesta 

Vesta, the second largest main-belt asteroid, reached opposition on March 4 and two BAA members, Mary McIntyre and Chris Nuttall took the opportunity to observe it soon afterwards: Mary used a DSLR camera fitted with standard lens, whereas Chris studied the asteroid visually recording what he saw at times of good seeing.

Here's Mary's observations in which she has combined images taken at six epochs between 2021 March 8 and March 21:

Chris's visual observation of this object was made when Vesta's disk subtended a mere 0.53 arcseconds:

It is interesting to see how the two compare. More observations welcome.

Richard Miles



Section Officers

Dr Richard Miles

Assistant Director (Astrometry)
Peter BirtwhistleAssistant Director (Exoplanets Division)Roger Dymock Assistant Director (Occultations)
Tim Haymes

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