Saturday, January 23, 2016

One Day Workshop for Asteroid Search Campaign 2016!

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) organized a one day workshop for the selected five teams who will be participating in the upcoming Pan-STARRS Asteroid Search Campaign which is going to be held during February 1-March 7, 2016. Students from 76 schools of 26 countries including Nepal are participating in the search campaign. Pan-STARRS an abbreviation of Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System.

Asteroid Search Campaign is an online student-based discovery program in astronomy officially introduced in Nepal by Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) in partnership with International Asteroid Search Campaign (IASC) , USA. The program was initially introduced for university students in 2012 and officially introduced for high school students in Nepal since 2016. The program has been introduced in order to foster research culture among Nepalese students from the school level system. As a part of program, five selected teams will participate to each time to different campaigns of IASC. We are currently working on the campaign infrastructure and likely to select more than five teams per campaign starting from 2017.

The workshop was organized in order to familiarized students and teachers of each participating shools about the program and also their roles and responsibilities as a part of global campaign. Suresh Bhattarai, Chairman at NASO introduced the program and demostrated the processes that each team will be going through the campaign. A practise sessions was conducted in order to provide all the teams hands-on experience with the software: Astrometrica which will be used for the search campaign and the process on how to identify the true and false signatures of the asteroids from the images provided to them during the campaign. Hands-on session was moderated by Kishor Acharya and Karan Batta from NASO.

Mr. Suresh Bhattarai. Chairman at NASO introducing the program to participanting school teams.
Image sets are provided by the Institute for Astronomy(IfA) at the University of Hawaii. Given clear and dark skies, the IfA uses the 1.8-m Pan-STARRS telescope located on Haleakala to take images along the ecliptic.Image sets are provided during the 2-week time period starting with the Moon’s 3rd Quarter and ending with the 1st Quarter.  The teams receive these image sets and use the program Astrometrica to search for and measure asteroids.  A report is prepared and sent to IASC which will be reviewed by the IASC Data Reduction Team (IDaRT) for possible discoveries. Discoveries are reported to the Minor Planet Center (Harvard)The teams have until the next 3rd Quarter to complete their analysis and sending their reports to IASC for review and validation.

Participants were the teachers and students from the following five schools of Kathmandu valley:
  1. Ankur Vidyashram, Battishputali
  2. Eureka High School, Nepaltar
  3. Ganesh English Boarding School, Tokha
  4. The Celebration Co-Ed, Jorpati
  5. The insight Vision Higher Secondary School, Dhumbarahi

Participants during the group photo after the workshop held at Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO)

During the campaign, students will make original discoveries of Main Belt asteroids and observations of NEOs that are reported to the Minor Planet Center (Harvard).  The NEO observations are recorded as part of the NASA Near-Earth Object Program (Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

We wish all the five teams from Nepal for happy hunting during the campaign!

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