Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What an amateur could do?

At the end of an asteroid hunting career, it may be human nature to think of the good old daysand what "amateurs" could do.

It was the end of 2003 and I determined to make use of the high QE small pixel ST10XME CCD (0.8 mag. fainter than a AP9) to extend thearc of a newly discovered TNO 2003 UY117, which has a short arc fromOct. 22 (691) to Nov. 24 (695).

Since this TNO was located near the west when the Sun set and myscope's viewing restriction, only a few 10 minutes exposures werepossible on each night (Dec. 17, 18, 19, 20, 22). Only because therough location and PA was known, after stacking three 10 minexposures, I managed to detect a very weak moving objects that matchthe speed and PA of 2006UY117. Hehe.. reaching mag. 21.6 was fun.

And thus the orbit was extended from 1 month to 2 months. ReinerStoss then use his excellent skill to find precovery images on NEATarchrive images on 2001 and 2002. And so now we know 2003UY117 is a Centaur, with a=55 au and e=0.41.

So it is a team of professional who discovered the TNO, a amateur toextend the arc and another amateur to precover the image. This is fun.Bill Yeung