Goat Mountain Asteroid Spectrographic Survey

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At the May 19-21, 2009 meeting of the Society for Astronomical Sciences, Ralph and Bob Stephens delivered a presentation to about 120 professionals and amateurs based on their published scientific paper, "Extending a Spectrographic Survey of Main Belt Asteroids with Micro Telescopes: A Proof of Concept Project (click here for presentation).

Dubbed "GMASS" (Goat Mountain Asteroid Spectrographic Survey) - complete with color logo and t-shirts - the goal of this project was simply to demonstrate that off-the-shelf gear available to amateur astronomers could substantially duplicate the work done by a professional observatory at Kitt Peak. As it turned out, some limitations of the equipment kept the team from capturing spectral curves that went as far into the red as the pros, and the GMASS data was unquestionably more "noisy." But for the range from 4400 to 7500 angstroms, many of the target asteroids had curves that were nearly identical to those captured by telescopes more than three times the aperture and instruments an order of magnitude more expensive.

Ralph and Bob are now exploring instrumentation options that would allow single-shot capture of spectra from 4500 to 9000 angstrom for asteroids down to 14th magnitude. There may also be a project to correlate the spectrographic project with Bob's widely recognized work in asteroid photometry.

Click on document above to download a PDF; below, Ralph and Bob at SAS

The chart on the left is based on data captured by Stephens-Megna from GMARS; on the right is the spectra curve based on data from Kitt Peak. 

For more on spectrographic work at GMARS/Megnaritaville, click here.