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Asteroid Rotation Lightcurve Project

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#1 rutherfordt

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Posted 27 May 2022 - 05:46 AM

Hey guys,

 

I have a project for students coming up this summer involving determining the rotational period of an asteroid (I already have several nights of data-- probably a thousand images or more altogether).  The issue is that a zero-cost (as in "free") program is needed that the students can download in order to do the photometry (this project is being done remotely so the students are located all over the US).

 

I personally use MaximDL for lightcurves since it does a great job with moving targets but it's not something that the students will be able to use since its not free.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  Please limit the responses to those of you who have actually used the the software that you are going to recommend-- for example, don't say "use AstroImageJ" unless you have actually used it for this purpose (I've used it and can't figure out how to get it to handle moving targets, though it does great with things that don't move).  AstroImageJ would be perfect if it can handle moving targets so if it has that feature and I have somehow missed it, please point it out and I will be eternally grateful!

 

Thanks!

 



#2 pbealo

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Posted 27 May 2022 - 06:16 AM

AAVSO's VPhot will do that.

 

Peter


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#3 GaryShaw

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Posted 27 May 2022 - 08:03 AM

Hi

I think It’s great that VPHOT can handle the moving targets. To use VPHOT, you need to be an AAVSO member so, Tom, if you’re a member, I’d bet that the AAVSO would be fine if you shared your membership credentials with the students. You can check with Ken Menzies who is ‘ all things VPHOT, I believe. You can reach him at this address  which I just plucked from the VPHOT Support link: VPhot-mgmt@aavso.org

 

There might be an issue with sharing your loggin if there are a lot of students in addition to tons of images per student ( I’ve never uploaded more than 10 at a time). I suspect there would be a lot of images that need to be uploaded and analyzed so probably some fancy coordination with the students’ uploads and analysis time would be required. You should get in touch with Ken and run everything by him and see if there’s a way to do it with VPHOT and a single AAVSO membership (85/yr). 

 

Sounds like a great learning experience. I’m working on doing something similar with Exoplanet Transit Science ( using AIJ) with our local area High Schools. 
cheers,

Gary


Edited by GaryShaw, 27 May 2022 - 08:04 AM.

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#4 rutherfordt

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Posted 27 May 2022 - 09:51 AM

Gary,

 

Yes, I am a member (RTH) and had thought about VPHOT, but as you mentioned, the students aren't members.  I will send an email and see what sort of permissions I might need to do this.

 

There will be six students total.  I am thinking as of right now that I might have them reduce the data from a single night (about 200 images so around 35-40 images per student and close to two full rotations) so that they are practiced with the procedure (maybe they can do two nights if all goes smoothly).  I might do the additional nights using Maxim since it can do this easily.  The actual light curve graphs we will do in Excel.

 

The students could also do this one image at a time using AstroImageJ, but doing it in batches would be better.  We have about 12-15 hours total contact time during July for the project so I don't have unlimited time. 

 

Thanks.

 

Tom



#5 Tom Polakis

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Posted 28 May 2022 - 12:30 AM

Will each of the six students be reducing the data on their own PC's, or is this a case where everyone would work individually at different times on a single PC? If it's the latter, I'd call the cost of MPO Canopus of $50 "almost free." If you want to put together a phased light curve, you'll want the software to adjust for changing phase and distances, and do light-time corrections. Other than MPO Canopus and Daniel Parrot's Tycho software, I don't know of any others that do that.  It's not just the moving-object aspect that makes asteroid photometry challenging. 

 

Tom



#6 rutherfordt

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Posted 28 May 2022 - 06:58 AM

The students will each be working individually on their own computers so multiple copies of everything would be required-- some will have Macs, some will have PCs so whatever is used must work on both platforms.

 

I'm currently thinking that we might just have to "brute force" it through a single night with each student doing around three dozen images, one image at a time, using something like AstroImageJ. 



#7 StupendousMan

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Posted 28 May 2022 - 09:43 PM

Many asteroids move slowly enough that they will identified properly relative to the other stars in the field by AstroImageJ (or other software) for 4 or 6 or 8 images.  In other words, if one breaks the images into sets of 4 or 6 or 8, then the students may be able to point-and-click on the first image to locate the target and reference stars --- and then let AIJ find all those objects automatically in the other images in each set.

 

So it may not be as painful as doing the full pointing-and-clicking on each image, one by one.



#8 rutherfordt

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Posted 29 May 2022 - 09:17 AM

That sounds like a great bit of information-- I will try it on a few sequential images and see how that works-- if it does then it will save us a lot of time.

 

Thanks!


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#9 Ed Wiley

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Posted 29 May 2022 - 01:19 PM

Tycho Tracker will do the job, I use it. You might contact Daniel Parrott and see if you can make a deal. It doesn't cost much but its not free. I assume you have searched the Web, so I will not bore you with that angle.

Ed



#10 RussD

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Posted 31 May 2022 - 02:16 PM

Hi Tom,

Feel free to contact me if you would like some additional support with asteroid light curves.  

 

I think you have a number of options that will work for software as others have stated. Contact me if you need anything else with the project.  

 

Regards,

 

Russ

 

 



#11 *skyguy*

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Posted 31 May 2022 - 03:25 PM

 

I personally use MaximDL for lightcurves since it does a great job with moving targets but it's not something that the students will be able to use since its not free.  Does anyone have any suggestions? 

Since you have and use this software, why don't you have your students download the free, full featured 

30-day trial version. If that's not enough time, contact Doug George (owner and software developer) ... let him know what you're doing ... and maybe he can fix you up with some additional time.

 

Good Luck with your student project ...



#12 rutherfordt

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Posted 31 May 2022 - 08:38 PM

I thought of that-- if they all have PCs, then that will work great, but Maxim won't work on a Mac so that might be an issue.  Once I have their contact information (I don't have it yet, although I will be getting it this week), I will send them each an email and check.




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