Indiana Asteroid Program

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The Indiana Asteroid Program was a program of photographic asteroid observations made with a 10-inch f/6.5 Cooke triplet astrographic camera[1] at Goethe Link Observatory near Brooklyn, Indiana.[2] The program was initiated by Frank K. Edmondson of Indiana University in 1949 and continued until 1967.[3] It had four objectives:

  • recovering asteroids that were far from their predicted positions
  • making new orbital calculations or revising old ones
  • deriving magnitudes accurate to about 0.1 mag
  • training students.[4]
External images Professor Frank Edmondson manipulates the 10-inch lens telescope at the Goethe Link Observatory in Brooklyn, Indiana, in the 1950s. Source: Indiana University News Bureau. Professor Frank Edmondson looks on as Esther Barnhart -- wife of Philip Barnhart (M.A. Astronomy 1955) -- takes precise measurements of an asteroid's location. By comparing locations of an asteroid on different plates taken an hour apart, its orbit could be calculated. Source: Indiana University News Bureau. Recent image of building housing the 10-inch lens telescope at Goethe Link Observatory. Source: Indiana Astronomical Society.

When the observatory's 36-inch (0.91-meter) reflecting telescope proved unsuitable for searching for asteroids, postdoctoral fellow James Cuffey arranged the permanent loan of a 10-inch (0.254-meter) lens from the University of Cincinnati.[5] Mounted in a shed near the main observatory, the instrument using the borrowed lens was responsible for all of the program's discoveries.[6]

By 1958, the program had produced 3,500 photographic plates showing 12,000 asteroid images and had published about 2,000 accurate positions in the Minor Planet Circular.[4] When the program ended, it had discovered a total of 119 asteroids.[7] The program's last unnamed discovery, 30718 Records, made in 1955, was not named until 2008, when its orbit was finally calculated and confirmed.[8]

The program ended when the lights of the nearby city of Indianapolis became too bright to permit the long exposures required for the photographic plates.[9]

The program's nearly 7,000 photographic plates are now archived at Lowell Observatory.[10]

Asteroids discovered by the Indiana Asteroid Program

Source: IAU Minor Planet Center: Discovery Circumstances of Numbered Minor Planets [11]


Notes and references

  1. Thomas Gehrels, "The Indiana Asteroid Program," Astronomical Journal, v. 63, No. 1256 (February 1958), p. 50.
  2. Indiana University Department of Astronomy: Frank Edmondson Home Page
  3. Asteroids II Machine-Readable Data Base - Version March 1988, Binzel, R.P. et al., eds. 1989, Univ. of Arizona Press, Note 103:"Planets discovered by the Indiana Asteroid Program, Goethe Link Observatory, Indiana University. This program was conceived and directed by F. K. Edmondson; the plates were blinked and measured astrometrically by B. Potter and, following her retirement, by D. Owings, and the photometry was performed under the direction of T. Gehrels. During the years 1947-1967, in which the plates were exposed, a large number of people participated in various aspects of the program."
  4. 4.0 4.1 Tom Gehrels.
  5. Ken Kingery, Betting on a Sure Thing: A "Record" Ending to Indiana Asteroid Program, Indiana Alumni Magazine, v.1, no. 2, September/October 2008, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Alumni Association, p. 46; See also, Space Daily.
  6. Id.
  7. "Minor Planet Discoverers". Minor Planet Center. 4 October 2015. Retrieved October 2015. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. News Release, April 7, 2008: IU Asteroid Program "records" final chapter [1]. The name was chosen by Frank Edmondson in honor of Brenda Records who managed the Indiana University Astronomy Department's office for 20 years.
  9. Kingery, p. 47.
  10. Kingery, p. 47, and Indiana University Department of Astronomy: Frank Edmondson Home Page
  11. IAU Minor Planet Center: Discovery Circumstances of Numbered Minor Planets