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Asteroids & remote planets section.

Section membership has grown further, reaching 96, which is most encouraging. Last year, some 23 members had obtained IAU observatory codes for their 'backyard' observatories: this number has now grown to 29. Graham Relf now posts useful information on the website of the Computing Section including finder charts of asteroids one month or so either side of opposition (for objects brighter than mag 12) as well as a list of forthcoming appulses of minor planet pairs which approach within 3' of each other.

Observations were contributed by David Arditti, Ron E. Baker, Stephen Berry, Peter Birtwhistle, David Boyd, David Briggs, Denis Buczynski, Luca Buzzi, Apostolos Christou, Daniel Cirelli, Martin Cole, Martin Crow, Simon Davies, Phil Denyer, Roger Dymock, Dave Eagle, George Faillace, John Fletcher, Sergio Foglia, Maurice Gavin, Edward Gomez, Iain Green (Stroud High School), Tim Haymes, Nick Howes, Samuel Hughes, Nick James, Antos Kasprzyk, Peter Meadows, Richard McComish, Dave McDonald, Iain Melville, Richard Miles, Martin Mobberley, Alessandro Odasso, Neil Parkin, Roger Pickard, Alex Pratt, Kieran Rooney, Phil Russell, Edward Sawyer, John Saxton, Robert and Edward Simonson, Dave Storey, John Talbot, Geoff Thurston, Alison Tripp, Katherine Vine, Simon Ward and Eric Watkins, together with College Le Monteil, Lord Wilson School, Simon Langton Grammar School, St. Richard Gwyn Catholic High School and Sutton Grammar School.

Section members have responded well to asteroid occultation alerts. Four asteroid occultations were successfully timed from the UK, namely (48) Doris on Sep 14 by Briggs, Haymes, James and Talbot; (83) Beatrix on Nov 25 by Haymes; (1796) Riga on Dec 18 by Haymes and Talbot; and (41) Daphne on Feb 23 by Haymes. Birtwhistle, Christou, Denyer, Miles, Pratt and Storey also reported negative observations. Information about a possible occultation of a magnitude 15 star by TNO (50000) Quaoar over Europe and North Africa on 2012 Feb 17 was distributed through the BAA and TA networks, but unfortunately weather conditions prevented a successful monitoring of this event from the UK (and elsewhere).

The Assistant Director continues to encourage observers to participate in occultation work and is grateful to the core observers who have produced good quality observations, i.e. accurate and reliable timings using video or drift-scan techniques. Positive reports contribute to geocentric- reduced observations reported by Dave Herald in the Minor Planet Circulars.

The Section's low-phase-angle project has continued with a further 11 asteroids being observed intensively through very low phase angle to supplement the 21 objects already covered. Some 30 observers have obtained V-filter images of programme asteroids, including contributions from six schools, and five students at the University of Glamorgan using the Faulkes telescopes. The target asteroids span a range of types but within the set covered are five objects belonging to the Themis family including (24) Themis itself. The main objective of 'Project Themis' is to ascertain whether the presence of water ice on the surface of Themis alters backscattering of light and hence modifies its phase curve at low phase angle (the opposition effect) compared to other objects from the same family.

Asteroids making close approaches to the Earth usually trigger observations amongst keen amateurs. This year was no exception with the close pass of 2010 TK7, the first 'Earth Trojan' asteroid in August, 2005 YU55 in November, 2012 BX34 in January and 2012 LZ1 in June.

Josh Hopkins of Lockheed Martin Space Systems has asked if we can participate in observations of asteroids which are potential targets for future spacecraft missions and it is hoped that members will be able to contribute, especially those having remote access to large telescopes such as the Faulkes/LCOGT network.

Articles published in the Journal were as follows:


'The rotational lightcurve of Haumea--an interesting observational challenge', by John Saxton (121(4), 223-227);

'The unusual case of 'asteroid' 2010 KQ: a newly discovered artificial object orbiting the Sun', by Richard Miles (121(6), 350-354);

'A revised rotation period for asteroid (2903) Zhuhai', by Peter Meadows (122(2), 110-111);

Notes and News:

'Asteroid (229255) Andrewelliott', by Richard Miles (121(4), 193);

'Asteroidal occultation observed from the UK and Europe', by Tim Haymes (121(4), 194);

'Earth's first 'Trojan' asteroid discovered', by Richard Miles (121(5), 264);

'Asteroid named for David Gavine', by Ken Kennedy (122(3), 148);

Observers' Forum:

'NEO makes a close approach', by Nick James (121(4), 240);

Publications by Section members (indicated in italics) appearing in recent issues of the Minor Planet Bulletin comprise:

'Photometric observations and analysis of 604 Tekmessa' by Ronald E. Baker, & B. D. Warner, Min.Plan.Bull. 38(4), 195-197 (2011)

'Rotation period and H-G parameters determination for 1188 Gothlandia' by Ronald E. Baker, F. Pilcher & D. A. Klinglesmith III, Min.Plan.Bull. 39(2), 60-63 (2012)

'Lightcurve analysis for 3017 Petrovic' by C. Odden & David McDonald, Min.Plan.Bull. 39(3), 104-105 (2012)

'Lightcurve photometry of 132 Aethra' by David McDonald, Min.Plan.Bull. 39(3), 105 (2012)

Tim Haymes and the Director contributed 17 pages of information published in the 2012 BAA Handbook. Thirteen communications were sent by the Director to members and four asteroid-related e-bulletins were issued. Monthly e-mails highlighting forthcoming occultations visible from the UK have been provided on a regular basis by Tim Haymes. The recently formed 'UKoccultations' Yahoo group aims to harness the interests and experience within the Lunar and Asteroidal occultation communities. During the close approach of asteroid 2005 YU55 in November, the Director participated in a live 'radio show' via the Slooh website.

The 30th European Symposium on Occultation Projects (ESOP 2011) was held in Berlin on 2011 August 26-31, at which Alex Pratt gave a presentation, Tim Haymes a poster, and which was also attended by Len Entwisle. Tim has also given talks to Maidenhead and Reading Astronomical Societies and the Director has tutored a class at the University of Glamorgan. The Director and member George Faillace attended the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC-DPS 2011) in Nantes, France during October 2-7, presenting a paper and a poster.

Richard Miles, Director
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Title Annotation:Sections
Author:Miles, Richard
Publication:Journal of the British Astronomical Association
Date:Oct 1, 2012
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