Asteroid Section Overview

Dr Richard Miles
Dr Richard Miles


The Section covers all aspects of those smaller Solar System objects termed asteroids, minor planets, dwarf planets, Centaurs, trans-Neptunian objects, Plutinos, near-Earth objects (NEOs), etc. Most of these bodies were left over after the main planets condensed from the Solar nebula four billion years ago, and now comprise all manner of strange objects, many of the closer objects being within range of small telescopes (10‒30 cm aperture). Activities conducted by the Section include the use of digital cameras for measuring the positions (astrometry) and more especially the brightnesses (photometry) of asteroids, and increasingly we observe many stellar occultations by asteroids, predictions for which are now very accurate. Also of special interest are newly-discovered NEOs, which can pass very close to the Earth – some of which have been found to be on a collision course!


Here is the latest list of asteroid targets which covers last half of 2023 and first half of 2024.

Listed below are the targets alongside their dates when they come to opposition or, in the case of near-Earth objects (NEOs), when they reach their brightest. 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. We have four potential NEOs, all less than 1 km across: two pass by in a few days and so will prove difficult, the other two are slower moving so they should be good targets that you can observe over several nights. 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. Image each target using either an unfiltered CCD or CMOS camera, or better still, one fitted with a Johnson V photometric filter, or a Sloan r’ filter. The idea is to measure the magnitudes of each object with high accuracy.

Two entries are asteroids named after particular people: (5099) Iainbanks named in honour of the author Iain Banks, and (3697) named after the long-standing editor of The Astronomer magazine and BAA member.

Many BAA members past and present have also had asteroids named after them and the Section together with the Historical Section are working on completing a database listing all these people.

Richard Miles




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