Bruce BettsAug 15, 2005

The 2005 Gene Shoemaker NEO Grant Recipients

The 2005 Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) Grants, totaling $32,500 (US), were awarded on 17 August to an international collection of amateur astronomers and researchers.

  • James W. Ashley, Minor Planet Research, Inc., Fountain Hills, Arizona, USA;
  • Peter Birtwhistle, Great Shefford Observatory, Berkshire, England;
  • David J. Higgins, Hunters Hill Observatory, Ngunnawal, Canberra, Australia;
  • Gianluca Masi, Campo Catino, Italy;
  • Erich Meyer, Davidschalg, Austria.

The observers and their projects were selected from a group of 24 proposals that The Planetary Society received from 12 different countries.

James W. Ashley of the Minor Planet Research, Inc. (MPR) will receive funding for data storage equipment and an Internet server to be used as a integral part of MPR’s Asteroid Discovery Station (ADS) education project. The ADS system uses both un-reviewed and archival images from the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search program (LONEOS) to provide students with the unique opportunity to discover both main-belt and near-Earth asteroids.

Read updates from Ashley: July 13, 2006

Peter Birtwhistle will receive funding to enhance the ongoing NEO astrometric follow-up program at the Great Shefford Observatory by upgrading an existing CCD camera. The upgrade will enable images from the camera to be transferred to its controlling PC at a rate about 20 times faster than currently possible. As a result, longer exposures will be possible in a given elapsed time, permitting the detection of fainter NEOs.

Read updates from Birtwhistle: June 18, 2006 - March 7, 2007

David Higgins will receive funding to purchase an SBIG CCD camera and filter wheel, allowing him to utilize the full automation tools already emplaced at his observatory and thus increasing the number of effectively utilized observing hours by a factor of 2. Higgins is a talented amateur observer with a good observing site north of Canberra where he will concentrate on astrometric follow-up and lightcurve studies of NEOs.

Read updates from Higgins: June 15, 2006 - March 3, 2007

Gianluca Masi will receive funding to repair and upgrade a 0.8-meter telescope that he uses for photometric observations of NEOs. Masi is a graduate student at the University of Rome, working full time on NEO observations.

Read updates from Masi: July 18, 2006

Erich Meyer will receive funding to purchase a new Santa Barbara Instruments Group (SBIG) CCD camera with a large pixel array and extremely short readout time. Meyer is a very experienced and productive NEO observer, who routinely works with his 0.6-meter telescope at very faint visual magnitudes comparable to professional surveys. The primary thrust of Meyer’s observing program is to extend the observed orbital arcs of very faint newly-discovered NEOs. The purchase of a new, modern CCD camera will enable him to make even greater contributions.

Read updates from Meyer: July 2, 2006

An international advisory group recommended candidates to receive the grant awards. The advisory group includes Planetary Society NEO grant coordinator Daniel D. Durda, Southwest Research Institute, Alan Harris, Space Science Institute; Brian Marsden, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; Petr Pravec, Ondrejov Observatory, Czech Republic; and Duncan Steel, Ball Aerospace - Australia.

Shoemaker NEO Grant Program

The Planetary Society's Shoemaker NEO Grant program funds advanced amateur astronomers to find, track, and characterize potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

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