Faulkes Telescope Observations

Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring)

Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) on 2013 October 17th. Images obtained using the Faulkes Telescope North, operated by Las Cumbres Observatory. Click on image to get larger region.

On the first day of our work experience at Armagh Observatory we were introduced to Dr. David Asher and Dr. Apostolos Christou. We were informed that we would be taking part in a project which was to use the Faulkes Telescope North which is situated in Hawaii to observe several objects. We used this telescope to observe three comets and two asteroids.

We used the Minor Planet Centre ephemeris service to generate a set of predictions. This gave us the predicted locations (and various other pieces of information) for each object at a certain time. We used this information to draw up a line of variation for the asteroid 2011 SL25. Tolis then calculated the right ascension and declination for the predicted location of the asteroid.

On Tuesday we had a half hour session with the telescope, during this session we observed the asteroid 2011 SL25. 2011 SL25 is a significant asteroid because it may indeed be a Martian Trojan. A Martian Trojan asteroid is an asteroid which shares the planet Mars' orbit. There were four fields along the line of variation for asteroid 2011 SL25, we took two sixty second exposures of each field. The next day we examined our observations using Astrometrica. However we were unsuccessful in locating 2011 SL25.

On Wednesday we had another half hour session with Faulkes Telescope North. During this session we observed 2011 SL25's predicted location. We were again unsuccessful in locating the asteroid. We also took one ten second exposure of the comet 2P/Encke, however the image was poor due to the short exposure time.

During our final half hour session on Thursday we observed comet C/2013 A1, comet 209P/Linear, comet 2P/Encke and asteroid 1998 VF31. C/2013 A1 is significant because it approaches Mars in 2014, 209P/Linear because it could be the cause of a possible meteor outburst next year, 2P/Encke because it completes an orbit of the sun every three years - the shortest period of any known comet and asteroid 1998 VF31 is interesting because it is a known Martian Trojan. After examining these exposures using Astrometrica we successfully located all of these objects.

To conclude we would like to thank the Faulkes Telescope Project and Las Cumbres Observatory. We would also like to thank Armagh Observatory's staff, especially Tolis, David, Aileen, Mark and Ruxandra, who helped us greatly during our placement.

Rian Owens and Curtis Angelone.

2013 October 18th

More astronomical projects with the Faulkes Telescopes

Last Revised: 2013 October 27th