Schools across Europe team up to image an asteroid and its moon


Last week, a team of schools from across Europe joined forces to use Faulkes Telescope South to image a binary asteroid throughout the course of a day. The schools, from the UK, Ireland, Poland, Portugal and France have been working together since 2010, after receiving funding from the EU's Comenuis programme, to collaborate on an asteroids project named 'In Orbit with Europe'. Earlier this year, the team successfully imaged a single asteroid, named Kariba, and produced an impressive plot of how it rotated in space - this time they've gone one step further and chosen an asteroid with a smaller companion!

The leader of the team, Andre Debackere, from College Le Monteil, France, reports on the team's observations below.

" As in January last year, pupils from different schools in Europe used the Faulkes Telescopes this week to observe a special asteroid called (11264) Claudiomaccone.

The small asteroid “Claudiomaccone”, about 4 km diameter, was discovered in 1979 by Nikolai Chernykh, and is a main belt object. In 2003, light curve analysis of this asteroid showed it had a natural satellite about 1 km diameter. An asteroid with a moon!

The weather was clear at Siding Spring this Thursday October 11th and during 4 hours, schools involved in the project took turns to pilot the 2 meter class telescope call FTS. First “Collège Le Monteil FR” then “The Leigh Technology Academy UK”, “Moreton Hall school UK”, “Escola secundaria da Cidadela PT”, “Planetarium i Obserwatorium Astronomiczne, ZST - Grudziadz, PL” and finally “ Regina Mundi College IR”. In total, 82 images were taken. All the teachers, pupils and Alison Tripp from the Faulkes team were talking by Skype during this session.

It’s the first time that we observe a binary asteroid and we hope to bring out the satellite in the light curve we will obtain with our observations…"


An animation of all the images taken by the team of schools was produced by LCOGT's Stuart Lowe, and can be seen below:



Further results, including the lightcurve from the observations are being finalised, and we'll let you know the outcome as soon as we can!