Light Curve Analysis of Minor Planets within the Asteroid Belt

Light Curve Analysis of Minor Planets within the Asteroid Belt

Between June 10 and July 22, I will apply Fourier Analysis and other statistical analyses to stacked photographs of low-mass minor planets within the asteroid belt to generate light curves with the Minor Planet Observatory Canopus program, and post my results to the Minor Planet Observatory database under the guidance of Professor Wouter Deconinck. In this process, I will determine the rotation rate of these asteroids, as well as their distance from Earth, and relative size. Using the Canopus software, I will further interpret the general shape and composition of the bodies, and will use the Minor Planet Observatory Light Curve Inverter to formulate a rendition of the asteroids appearance.

I will take photographs of these minor planets through telescopes on top of the roof of Small Hall. If repairs to the Thomas Harriot Observatory are finished by June 10th, I will make observations with a 10” Meade LX200 ACF telescope. In this scenario, I will generate a light curve for four to five asteroids known to the MPO database but without current light curves. If the repairs are unfinished, I will make observations with an 8” Schmidt Cassegrain telescope instead, with permission from Professor Wouter Deconinck. In this scenario, I will generate light curves for four to five objects which have not yet been observed for a full rotation but have had multiple observations from astronomers in the past. I will take photographs with the SBIG Model STF 8300 – M/C CCD camera in the red, blue, green, and white light spectrums with exposures of two to seven seconds for three to four nights in order to chronicle a full rotation of my previously selected asteroids. After taking a sufficient number of photographs, I will compile the data into more accurate files with better resolution and use the Canopus software to compare the magnitude of light reflected from the asteroid among the “stacked” files.

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