We had an excellent talk from Prof. Giles Hammond of the University of Glasgow on a very interesting project he’s running with his students. Alan Pickup also gave us a very comprehensive rundown of what’s in the night sky in July and August. Watch the video to see them if you missed the meeting.

A lot of us in the Society do imaging and use some of the calibration techniques that Giles outlined but it was great having the background theory explained to us and seeing how it could be done from scratch.

There are a large number of asteroids which are reasonably bright (>12th magnitude), have rotation periods of several hours and are easily observable from UK latitudes. As asteroids rotate, their magnitude is modulated, and accurate photometry can reveal these fast rotators.

In this talk, I will describe a project which was run with our 3rd/4th year undergraduates at the University of Glasgow during the COVID lockdown. Using a remote telescope in Spain, we took consecutive nights of data of a pair of asteroids. I will describe the work undertaken to calibrate the images using dark/flat/bias frames, the use of plate solving software to identify the asteroid, and how calibration stars were used to estimate the asteroid magnitude.

These techniques can be applied to any remote telescope data and can be expanded to variable stars and exoplanets.