Use of a scanning CCD to discriminate asteroid images moving in a field of stars

R. S. McMillan, J. V. Scotti, J. E. Frecker, T. Gehrels, M. L. Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We are using a charge-coupled device (CCD) in a scanning mode to find new asteroids and recover known asteroids and comet nuclei. Current scientific programs include recovery of asteroids and comet nuclei requested by the Minor Planet Center (MPC), discovery of new asteroids in the main belt and of unusual orbital types, and follow-up astrometry of selected new asteroids we discover. The routine “six sigma” limiting visual magnitude is 19.6 and slightly more than a square degree is scanned three times every 90 minutes of observing time during the fortnight centered on new moon. Semiautomatic software for detection of moving objects is in routine use; angular speeds as low as 11.0 arcseconds per hour have been distinguished from the effects of the Earth's atmosphere on the field of view. A typical set of three 29-minute scans near the opposition point along the ecliptic typically nets at least 5 new main-belt asteroids down to magnitude 19.6, but we do not follow all of those. In 18 observing runs (months) we have recovered 43 asteroids, discovered and reported astrometric and photometric data on 59 new asteroids, consolidated 10 new asteroids with orbital elements, and reported photometry and positions of 22 comets. We outline our future scientific programs that will take advantage of the expected performance of a Tektronix TK2048M-011 “thick”, “quiet”, cosmetically clean, front-i11uminated CCD with 2048 x 2048 pixels that we have ordered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-154
Number of pages14
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Oct 13 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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