Tracking newly discovered asteroids and comets to identify their orbits is the work of a small number of observatories. Yet UK students, using the Faulkes Telescope North - a remotely operated research quality telescope dedicated for educational use - will now be swelling these ranks. The students have taken such accurate data of a number of asteroids that the telescope has been awarded an observatory code and can now submit official data to the international body that monitors asteroids and comets, the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU’s) Minor Planet Centre.
M16 is a beautiful star cluster still surrounded by its embryonic gas and dust cloud. New stars are still forming in this region which lies 7,000 light years away, seen in the constellation Serpens.
The students, at King’s School in Canterbury, have been aided by their teacher Dr Andrew Taylor and Dr Lothar Kurtze, from Technische Universität in Darmstadt. Over the period of a month, several asteroids were observed to demonstrate the high quality of the images and the telescope’s ability to accurately track asteroids, an area of research called astrometry.
Dr Andrew Taylor says, “It’s great to be working alongside professional astronomers, and using the Faulkes Telescope North is extremely simple over the internet. The students are thrilled to be making a valuable contribution in this important area of research.”
Julia Maddock | alfa
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