Observing the DART impact with DART – OPTiK Campaign in Kenya

Observing the DART impact with DART – OPTiK Campaign in Kenya

In this guest post, Megan Leishman reports on the activities of the DART – OPTiK team in Kenya, which have been supported through the Europlanet Coordination of Ground-based Observations Networking Activity and Ambassadors’ Programme.

Hello! We are the DART – OPTiK team, a collaboration of researchers from the University of Edinburgh, STFC UKRI, Technical University of Kenya and the Turkana Basin Institute. We will be working at the TBI base in Ileret for the next couple of months to set up a portable telescope which will then take observations of the equatorial sky for many nights to come, including the impact of NASA’s DART mission with asteroid Dimorphos in late September.

NASA’s DART Mission (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) is the first of its kind, a planetary defence mission aimed at testing asteroid deflection through impact. The test will be carried out on a binary asteroid system, which has a big asteroid (Didymos 780m) with a smaller moon (Dimorphos) orbiting it. These will imitate the Sun and a smaller asteroid, on course to collide with the Earth. The spacecraft, which NASA launched at the end of last year, will collide with the moon at the end of September this year. Astronomers will then monitor the orbit of the moon to measure how effective this ‘kinetic impactor’ experiment was.

None of the large observatories in the Americas will be able to see the actual impact until 4 hours later due to it being daytime when the collision happens. This is where our portable telescope comes in!

We will be able to observe the impact as it happens and be able to see anything that comes from the actual collision such as dust. After the impact, the telescope will also be able to monitor the orbit of the moon using its lightcurve. 

The telescope will also be used to do astronomical tests to discern whether the site is suitable for more permanent observatory to be built there in the future. This is the first time these kinds of images will have been taken in Kenya, and along with the help of the Kenya Optical Telescope Initiative (KOTI), we hope to be able to continue observations in the country and help to increase the astronomy that can be done here. Working with the Technical University of Kenya and the Kenya Space Agency, we will strengthen capacity for local astronomy and facilitate new research in the region. 

Whilst we are in Ileret, we will also be working with the local community to run school workshops and an open night at the base. We hope to learn from the local cultures about how astronomy has influenced them and to share cultural parts from our end, and learn from them about their culture.

DART - OPTiK Observing Campaign, Kenya

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Updated Draft Programme Published for Workshop #3 on Fireballs and their Detection

Updated Draft Programme Published for Workshop #3 on Fireballs and their Detection

Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 August, University of Glasgow

Convened by: Günter Kargl (Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences; ), Ute Amerstorfer (Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences) and Detlef Koschny (European Space Agency).

In cooperation with Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI), a series of four workshops bringing together different networks of fireball observers and machine-learning experts are being arranged over two years. This series is aimed at: i) the development of a common data format and/or common entry point to the observational data of the different fireballs networks, and ii) machine-learning science cases for meteor observations. 

The next workshop will be held in conjunction with the 85th Annual Meeting of The Meteoritical Society in Glasgow (14–19 August 2022, https://www.metsoc2022.com/).

This is the third workshop of the series, and its main topics are: 

  • continue discussing and exploring the possibilities of a common entry point to all data, reports on recent activities;
  • continue discussing Lunar impact flashes, observation networks and software;
  • Introduce topics of meteorite recovery, strewn field estimation and dark flight calculation;
  • continue discussing and identifying machine learning science cases for fireball observations.

The workshop venue is in the Molema Building, Lillybank Gardens, University of Glasgow campus, Room 308. This is five minutes´ walk from the welcome reception of the Meteoritical Society conference, which will be held in the Hunterian Museum of the University of Glasgow, starting at 5 pm.

See details of the first and second workshops.

Pro-Am Comet Community (Hybrid) Workshop – Announcement of Draft Programme

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Pro-Am Comet Community (Hybrid) Workshop

Draft Programme and Practical Arrangements

10 – 12 June 2022, Prague

In cooperation with Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI), the British Astronomical Association, Planetum Prague, and the Czech cometary community SMPH, a Pro-Am Workshop is being organised to bring together professional and amateur members of the cometary science and observational community. The workshop will be held in hybrid format from 10-12 June 2022 at the Stefanik Observatory, Prague, and online.  The workshop will last for two and a half days, starting Friday morning, and will be in English.

We are pleased to announce a draft Programme for the workshop, along with associated Abstract details.  

The programme allows time for detailed discussions on areas important to the comet community, as well presentations.  We will be using Zoom for presentations and real time comment/questions.  We have also set up a Discord server which will host copies of the presentations, and allow discussions both during the workshop and later.  We will (after editing) also upload recordings of the sessions to Youtube.

The workshop has attracted professional and amateur participants from across the world.  A list of attendees is available here.

For those attending in person, our local colleagues have put together some very useful local information.

Our local colleagues are also working on some optional social activities.  

For those who are being funded by Europlanet, you need to ensure you comply with these reimbursement requirements.  (If accommodation costs more than the allowed maximum nightly rate your reimbursement will be capped at that maximum rate.)

We are looking forward to a fruitful and enjoyable time together during (and after) the workshop.


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