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The observations of Near Earth Objects by the automatic mirror astrograph ZA–320M at Pulkovo observatory

Abstract

At Pulkovo Observatory, we conduct observations of various Solar System bodies: major planets, their satellites, comets, and asteroids, including Near Earth Objects. For these purposes, a robotic telescope was constructed on the base of the ZA–320 Mirror Astrograph (D=320 mm, F=3200 mm). It can perform CCD observations of Solar System bodies with the limiting magnitude of up to 19.0.

Independent ephemeris support is provided by the EPOS software package developed at Pulkovo Observatory; it includes tracing of catalogues of comets and asteroids, regular ephemeris calculations, and control of observations. CCD frame processing is done by the Apex automatic data reduction package developed at Pulkovo Observatory.

In 2001-2006, more than 12000 observations of minor Solar System bodies were collected, including more than 6000 positions of 656 NEAs, about 1200 observations of 27 comets, and about 2000 observations of major planets satellites. The mean accuracy of obtained positions is 0″.09−0″.40. Results of observations are regularly submitted to the Minor Planet Center.

Currently, ZA–320M is the 16-th of more than 680 telescopes in the worldwide rating of those that observe NEAs (by the number of observations).

In the near future, our group is planning to start observations with another two robotic telescopes: MTM–500 (D=500 mm, F=4000 mm Maksutov) and 1-meter telescope (D=1000 mm, F=1200 mm) of the Pulkovo mountain station at Northern Caucasus (Kislovodsk, 2100 m above sea level). These two instruments will allow to increase the number of observations, their accuracy, and limiting magnitude (up to 20.5 mag).

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Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
  • ISSN: 1743-9213
  • EISSN: 1743-9221
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-international-astronomical-union
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