2006 Student Research Conference:
19th Annual Student Research Conference


Calculating Asteroid Lightcurves Using Differential Photometry
Travis E. Monk
Dr. Matthew M. Beaky, Faculty Mentor

Due to the irregular shape and rotation of asteroids, the amount of sunlight they reflect towards Earth varies in time. Less than 1% of known asteroids have had these periodic variations in magnitude, called asteroid lightcurves, measured. In addition, the current database of known lightcurves is skewed toward larger, more prominent asteroids, leaving smaller, equally important specimens poorly represented. A more complete database may give astronomers some insight on the collisional evolution of the solar system. Taking images of an asteroid throughout the course of several nights will reveal a quasi-sinusoidal pattern in the magnitude of the asteroid, yielding our desired lightcurve. We may then deduce the period of the asteroid’s rotation. We measure asteroid lightcurves with a CCD camera working in conjunction with a 14” Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and MPO connections, a photometry software package. Methods and preliminary results are potential discussion topics.

Keywords: Asteroid, Light, Curve, Differential, Photometry, Astronomy, CCD, Telescope


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 7-3
Location: VH 1416
Time: 8:45

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