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Science students locate asteroids

April 13, 2011

By Carmen Brown, Staff Writer

In the astronomy 1106 class, Arunava Roy is conducting a project in which Young Harris College students look for Near Earth Objects or NEOs via pictures that have been sent to them through a branch of NASA working in Illinois to locate asteroids, also referred to as NEOs. This is a project that was just started this semester, though Roy plans to extend the project to the upcoming Fall 2011 semester.

Students will receive images taken from a telescope. Then by using special software, the students will begin to analyze the images for NEOs, which are most commonly asteroids. Students must manually search through the images to determine if any objects appear to have movement. Students will receive the images within 48 hours of the photos being taken.

Roy’s students work on this project once or twice a week with about half an hour to analyze any image sets. If students do begin to find movement in their images, it is possible that they have located an asteroid.

“It’s cool ‘cause we get credit for doing this in the science community,” Bennett Yarbrow a sophomore from Atlanta said.

So far, Roy’s students have found four to five asteroids, which Roy said was challenging due to the faintness of the objects. The size of these asteroids varies from being the size of a Volkswagen Beetle   or the size of a bridge.

“They really seem to enjoy it, and this is a continuing project so more people will have the opportunity to experience this in the fall class,” Roy said.

 

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