Welcoming New Members
Osservatorio Astronomico Sormano
(Jul 2019) IAWN extends a warm welcome to its newest member Sormano Astronomical Observatory, located in northern Italy. This team has been observing NEOs and comets for over 20 years specializing in critical astrometric follow-up of NEOs from the NEOCP and the JPL risk page. Their main instrument is a 0.5m telescope and CCD with a field of view > 30 arcminutes and a faint limit of V > 21. In addition to observational expertise, this team also has orbit and identification experts capable of linking NEOs together that have not been seen in decades. The Sormano team is another great addition to the Network!
- 0.5m f/6.8 RCOS Ritchey Chrétien
- MPC 587 (Prealpi Lombarde, about 40 km north of Milan, Italy)
Northolt Branch Observatories
(Jun 2019) IAWN would like to extend a warm welcome to Northolt Branch Observatories. Earlier this week they submitted a formal request and it has been accepted by the Steering Committee. Northolt Branch operates three facilities with observatory codes Z80, Z48, and Z37 that specialize in asteroid and comet astrometry. The location of the observatories in longitude 3/4 of the way around the Earth from the main discovery programs in the southwestern United States allows for follow-up less than a day after discovery for bright and rapidly-moving NEOs. They also have Facebook and Twitter feeds.
- 0.25m f/8 Ritchey Chrétien
0.07m f/5.9 refractor
0.30m f/8 Ritchey Chrétien
0.15m f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain
- MPC code Z80, Z48, Z37 (London, England; Blandford Forum, England; Marburg, Germany)
- Asteroid and comet astrometry, lightcurves of NEAs
- NEO follow-up, outreach
(Nov 2018) Vinjan Observatory (VO), Tican joins IAWN, with telescope facilities for survey, follow-up and physical characterization of minor planets in the Solar System. VO has more than 25 years of asteroid observing, discovery and follow-up (MPC code 120 and newly allocated MPC code L01). VO's time is primarily dedicated to operational asteroid observation, but also serves the community in educating students and future experts in the field of Solar System science.
- Vinjan Observatory, Tican
1m f/2.9 telescope equipped with 3056 × 3056, 12 × 12 µm CCD
- MPC code L01, Tican, Croatia
- Discovery, follow-up and physical characterization
- NEO follow-up, possibly survey, lightcurve measurements, critical observations
Zwicky Transient Facility
(Aug 2018) IAWN would like to welcome the Zwicky Transient Facility, or ZTF to the IAWN as of July 2018! Below we provide a bit of information on the project.
Beginning in early 2018, the Zwicky Transient Facility or ZTF (a collaboration led by the California Institute of Technology; see ATel #11266) began operation. On February 5 of this year (2018), ZTF discovered their first NEO, designated 2018 CL by the Minor Planet Center. Since this time, the ZTF has discovered several more NEOs, as well as a ~1000 main belt asteroids.
The ZTF uses the 1.2m Palomar Oschin Schmidt telescope and a large mosaic of CCDs to cover over 3500 square degrees of sky per hour to around V magnitude = 20.5. This wide area coverage and faint limit will allow the ZTF to discover NEOs that are fainter than discoveries that would normally be picked up by either the ATLAS telescope, (https://fallingstar.com/home.php) or the Catalina Sky Survey Schmidt telescope (https://catalina.lpl.arizona.edu/) which cover similarly large areas of sky. These three systems together represent a significant advance in planetary defense, as they are able to cover significantly larger portions of the sky than traditional surveys and allow for improved and increased warning for small objects on impacting trajectories. ZTF's sky coverage is sufficiently large that it should also allow repeated observations of most main-belt asteroids down to V magnitude fainter than 20. Readers should be aware that a larger catalog of main-belt asteroids facilitates easier NEO detection, and easier operation of these surveys.
The Palomar Oschin Schmidt has historically been a pioneer observing facility for NEO discovery. Several large and important NEO discoveries were made using photographic plates during the Palomar Sky Survey in the late 1940s and early 1950s. These discoveries include (1566) Icarus and (1620) Geographos. While conducting the second Palomar Sky Survey in the 1980s and 1990s, a few dozen NEOs and comets were discovered. During the early 2000s, the Oschin Schmit was used for over 300 NEO discoveries as part of the NEAT survey run by Eleanor Helin. It is nice to see this facility in routine operation again, and we look forward to more NEO discoveries in the future.