Scientific Work at Badlands Observatory

I. Asteroids:

Notice: Badlands Observatory assigned MPC Site Code 918.  Asteroid observations from around the world are submitted to the Minor Planet Center (MPC). The MPC operates at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which is part of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It falls under the auspices of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). In order for observations to be accepted into MPC’s database, an observatory must first satisfy requirements that include taking several images of a low numbered, well known asteroid, and performing the astrometry (positional measurements) on them. If MPC is satisfied with the results, an official observatory site code number is issued which allows future observations to be accepted. Badlands Observatory has been approved by MPC and assigned Site Code 918.

What happened to the Dinosaurs?

Many people are aware there has been increasing evidence indicating that the end of the dinosaur era, about 65 million years ago, was due in large part to a cataclysmic collision between the Earth and an asteroid or comet. In fact, it has been suggested that several other mass extinction events from earlier epochs, may also be related to similar events. The validity of these claims will no doubt be debated for decades to come. In any case, these findings have resulted in a resurgence in the general interest and study of these fascinating objects.

One of the principal reasons for the existence of Badlands Observatory is to participate in the goals of the Spaceguard Foundation, an international collaboration of astronomers dedicated to study this issue. One of their principal goals is to locate and track, within a decade, at least 90% of all Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) which are large enough to be potentially hazardous to the Earth. The statistical probability of one hitting us within the near future is, of course, very small, but the potential results of such a collision are so disastrous that it definitely warrants attention. The most recent estimate indicates there are approximately 1,000 NEO’s having diameters of 1 km or larger. These objects are considered capable of creating a global catastrophe, if encountered.

A rather impressive collaboration between professional and amateur astronomers has evolved in the past few years. Because of recent advances in computer and CCD detector technology, it is now possible for amateur observers to make a sizable contribution in the field of asteroid research. Badlands Observatory has joined this collaboration and is taking advantage of the dark skies of Quinn, SD for this endeavor. The 26" telescope is being used nearly every clear night to aid in doing follow-up astrometry on previously discovered objects and is also conducting some independent searches for new objects.  These observations can be viewed by clicking here

II. Supernova Search

If time permits, Badlands Observatory will conduct a systematic search for supernovae in external galaxies.

III. Gamma Ray Bursters (GRB’s)

Badlands Observatory may also participate in a newly-formed network of telescopes dedicated to quick follow-up photometry of these distant energetic sources.

IV. Other

Observing time may also be made available (either online, or on-location) to other observers for their projects on a TBA basis. Interested parties should contact Ron Dyvig.

You are invited to frequently revisit this page, as updates will be posted to cover ongoing activities.


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