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The Planetary Society Awards Nearly $58,000 to Amateur Asteroid Hunters


Danielle Gunn
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Pasadena, CA (December 18, 2019) — The Planetary Society is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) Grant program, named after pioneering planetary geologist Gene Shoemaker. Shoemaker grants support very advanced amateur astronomers around the world in their efforts to find, track, and characterize near Earth asteroids.

The world's professional sky surveys alone cannot handle the burden of defending the Earth from potentially dangerous asteroids. Shoemaker grant winners contribute in particular to two areas of planetary defense:

This round’s winners continue a long tradition of Planetary Society-supported planetary defense, protecting the Earth from the threat of asteroid impacts. In this round of grants, 6 proposals are awarded a total of $57,906. Over the 22-year history of the program, approximately $440,000 has been granted to 62 winners in 19 countries on 6 continents. The 2019 winners are from 4 countries on 3 continents:

The proposals were reviewed by the following expert advisory panel:

Press Resources

Bruce Betts, Chief Scientist and Gene Shoemaker NEO Grants program lead, is available for interviews. Please arrange with Danielle Gunn, chief communications officer, at

Webpage: About the Gene Shoemaker NEO Grant Program

Announcement, featuring images of the winners: Announcing the 2019 Shoemaker NEO Grant Winners

Story: The Biggest Little Asteroid Observatory by Jason Davis

Audio: Planetary Radio Shoemaker NEO Grants Show

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Hunting for Dangerous Asteroids

Bob Stephens from California tracks and characterizes dangerous near-Earth asteroids. The equipment needed for such a task doesn't last forever. With help from our members, asteroid hunters can upgrade their equipment to make sure we find asteroids before they find us.

Osservatorio Astronomico della Montagna Pistoiese

Paolo Bacci

Osservatorio Astronomico della Montagna Pistoiese
Asteroid researchers at the Osservatorio Astronomico della Montagna Pistoiese in Italy received a 2019 Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO Grant. From left: Martina Maestripieri, Luciano Tesi, and Paolo Bacci (principal investigator).
Alessandro Nastasi

Alessandro Nastasi

Alessandro Nastasi
Shoemaker NEO Grant recipient Alessandro Nastasi.
Višnjan Observatory

Višnjan Observatory

Višnjan Observatory
A 2019 Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO Grant will help Višnjan Observatory in Croatia perform astrometric measurements of newly discovered near-Earth objects. The observatory also hosts educational visits by middle and high school students.

About The Planetary Society

The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. With the mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a longtime member of The Planetary Society's Board, serves as CEO.


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