17 New Asteroids Found by LightBuckets
October 05, 2009
I wanted to see first hand just how good LB-0001 could be at finding 20-21st magnitude objects so that I could pass the word on to our customers. Now I know...
I imaged for an average of 2 hours per night for 7 nights straight (I did my imaging when the scope wasn't already booked). Out of these 14 hours of imaging, I found 17 new objects that have received provisional designations from the MPC. I have 4 others that are still pending provisional designations. There were also 3 that I considered lost as I couldn't find them after two follow up attempts and 2 that I gave up on because I ran out of time.
My imaging strategy was to find an area in the main belt that was relatively devoid of asteroids during the time of my imaging run (I knew this by loading the entire MPCORB database in to TheSky and checking the FOV for any known objects at my run time). I then setup an imaging plan of 6 subframes at 300s each (of course with a guide star selected as well). This number of frames and integration time allow me to get nice deep images (at least mag 21, probably closer to 22), provided a good time span so that any moving objects would be detected via blinking, and gave me enough extra data should there be noise or some other artifact that interfered with my science data.
Once I had my data and got it calibrated, I would blink it in Astrometrica, looking for anything that moved. There wasn't a single instance where I pointed the scope in an area near the asteroid belt that I didn't find at least 1 new object and usually 3 or 4. All were at mag 20 or greater. Often times I would actually see fainter objects in the noise but couldn't isolate them well enough to get good astrometry.
Now that I have gone through this little exercise (and have 17-21 objects I get to name once they go around the Sun a few times
I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have about hunting minor planets with LightBuckets instruments. It is both fun and challenging - give it a try!
P.S. LB-0001's Minor Planet Center Designation is H11