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A Unique Project to Track Asteroids for Asteroid Day 2016

Press Release From: Las Cumbres Observatory
Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Las Cumbres Observatory have partnered with Asteroid Day and Universe Awareness to create a website which allows you to take pictures of asteroids, using a global network of telescopes. Las Cumbres Observatory has 18 professional robotic telescopes at seven remote astronomical sites across the globe. With this website, you can join the international campaign to study and raise awareness about asteroids.

By entering your email address, you will trigger observations on the global telescope network. Once your observations have been taken they are automatically combined with all other images of the selected asteroid, into a time-lapse video. You can view all of this on the Las Cumbres Observatory Asteroid Day website (http://asteroidday.lcogt.net).

“Taking images of asteroids can be an involved process because they are moving through space,” says Dr. Edward Gomez, Las Cumbres Observatory’s Education Director and software developer for the Asteroid Day website. “We wanted to simplify this process, making it into a single click that triggers a request for images on Las Cumbres Observatory.”

Participants have a choice of two asteroids to observe. Both are scientifically interesting, in different ways.

“We chose two asteroids we wanted to study further, that would be passing close to Earth around Asteroid Day,” said Dr. Sarah Greenstreet, post-doctoral fellow on the Las Cumbres Observatory NEO team. “By combining observations made by the public with some of our own we hope to learn about how fast they are rotating and what their surface is made from.”

Asteroid Day is held each year on June 30th, the anniversary of the largest impact in recent history, the 1908 Tunguska event in Siberia. Anyone can sign up to help this effort by collecting images with Las Cumbres Observatory until 00:00 UTC on July 1st at http://asteroidday.lcogt.net.

The program is taking place on the LCO Global Telescope Network and is funded in-part by the NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office and the Near Earth Object Observations Program.

Founded in 2005, Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation created in the spirit of scientific exploration and discovery. LCOGT is at the forefront of astronomical research by providing real-time viewing through a worldwide network of telescopes that function in concert as one instrument, thereby offering a consistently observable sky -- a never ending night giving scientists, educators, and the general public the unique ability to view and investigate astronomical phenomena quickly and take immediate observations, or monitor a star for days on end to watch it pulsate and change. This powerful network currently contains 18 deployed telescopes at 6 sites -- Chile, Australia, South Africa, Maui, HI, Texas, and Tenerife. This network will grow to 21 telescopes at 8 sites when progress is completed in Israel and China in the future. These collaborator-sites fulfill both LCOGT’s scientific goal to revolutionize time domain astronomy research; and it’s educational goal to make astronomy accessible to everyone and inspire people of all ages to become involved in the excitement of scientific discovery.

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