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ARCADIA ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY

 To contact us:      Phone: 612 9653 3395 | Mob:  0419 243 715  | E-mail: andras@arcadiaobservatory.org

 

14 February 2021

 

Survived 2020, the year of catastrophic bush fires, floods, storms and the global COVID-19 pandemic. The virus is still with us but under control in NSW. Following planetary photography all through October, the C14 was reconfigured to HyperStar f/1.9 setup and regular NEO follow up resumed. There wasn’t much action however for two reasons.  It was a cool start to the summer due the El Nina this year resulting in mostly cloudy skies and rain. The garden loves it and there is no danger of bushfires, thank God and the El Nina. The other reason was the gradually reduction in the number of reachable targets candidates. The great majority of the NEO candidates on the NEOCP page are now fainter than 20V magnitude so unreachable to the C14.  The resulting MPECs  were 1 for November, 3 for December,  4 for January and 4 so far for February. 

29 August 2021

 

COVID-19 is still with us and raging out of control in NSW. We are severely locked down and restricted to moving in a 5km radius. Luckily the restrictions have no effect on the work of Arcadia Observatory.   New NEO asteroid follow up observations continued without interruption contributing to 45 NEO discoveries and their corresponding MPECs in the last 6 month.

 

In June, the famous Amor NEO 433 Eros was in a favourable position and I took the opportunity to observe it over two consecutive nights and generate two very good light curves with surprisingly large amplitudes of 0.72 V and a period of 5.27 +-0.01 hours, consistent with the accepted value.

6 March 2022

 

It has been a miserable summer in Arcadia.  Due to the still active La Nina there have been very few clear nights for observation. Both January and February only produced only one NEO confirmations. I did manage a remarkable observation however.

 

The James Webb Space Telescope (James Webb Space Telescope (nasa.gov)) was launched on Christmas day last year to Le Grangian point L2.  I wondered shortly after the launch of JWST if it could be imaged at L2 1.5 million km away.  I was guessing that when fully deployed with its tennis court size sun shade, fully lit facing the Earth, the JWST would present a very bright target and should be detectable. Julian on the IceinSpace ‘general chat’ forum produced a plausible rough estimate of its apparent brightness of 14 to 15V at L2. It would always be in the night sky, somewhere on the meridian at midnight. This is not strictly true because JWST is not actually at L2 but orbits around it on a huge halo orbit that takes it more then 10 degrees away from it in the sky as seen from Earth. So a source of accurate ephemerides was needed and found at https://unistellaroptics.com/ephemeris. At the first clear night opportunity, which came a full month later on 9 February when the JWST was already at L2 and fully deployed. Pointing at the predicted position, I took 30 one minute images using my usual setup I use on survey run to find new moving objects. One minute exposure reaches to at least magnitude 18V on the C14 350mm scope and SBIG ST8300M camera so I was confident I would see it even without stacking. Running Astometrica’s ‘Moving Object Detection’ feature there were 2 moving objects in the field. One was recognised as asteroid 11478 the other, at almost he dead centre of the field was not recognised as a known object by the software so I’m certain it is the JWST shining at magnitude 17.6V. If this would have been a routine survey run I would have been getting excited but alas I expected exactly what was there. The image below shows detail of 5 stacked images generated by Astrometrica’s ‘track and stack’ function.

 

The day after I imaged JWST the skies closed again and lightning during an electrical thunderstorm ‘took out’ a large proportion of the electronic equipment in the observatory including the C14 hand controller, the telescope controller and the dome controller. Luckily I had spare parts for the faulty components but spent 3 days repairing everything. There is still some doubt about the health of the observatory computer as well as the integrity of the whole system. The rain has set in and there has been no opportunity for any actual observing.

The image on left shows detail of 5 stacked images generated by Astrometrica’s ‘track and stack’ function.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The image below shows two moving objects, the brighter one is asteroid 11478 the faint one in the centre is the JWST in orbit around L2