Observing Activity

Thanks to the possibility of the remote control, we usually use two telescopes simultaneusly for our astrometric observations: the 0.60-m and the 0.38-m reflectors.
In both domes there is a dedicated PC that controls the pointing of the telescope and the CCD. The clock of the PCs is updated every minute with Dimension 4 software, because timing is essential, especially for fast NEOs.
Focusing is  guaranteed by an electronic micro-focuser, and checked from time to time to be sure to have the smallest stars possible.
Our main source for targets is the NEO Confirmation Page maintained from Minor Planet Center. Here converge all the last discoveries of NEOs and comets made by the professional surveys (and sometimes also by amateur sites!).
For follow-up work, a very good tool is the NEA Observations Planning Aid, as well as the Daily Orbit Update, which contains all the last observations of NEAs.
Moreover, there are special lists of targets to observe, such as the Risk List from University of Pisa NEODys.
Once the targets are imaged, with Astrometrica by Herbert Raab (really a simple but amazing software) I reduce them and send the positions to the Minor Planet Center.
In 2010, we’ve been the most important Observatory in Italy for the number of minor planets observed (746) and the most important in the world for the number of comets observed (130).
Unfortunately the weather does not allow us to observe for more than about 100 nights per year.
Our statistics are:
2008 = 92 nights – 484 MPs & 153 comets – 2272 observations;
2009 = 102 nights – 595 MPs & 157 comets – 2722 observations;
2010 = 99 nights – 746 MPs & 130 comets – 2992 observations.

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