MARTZ OBSERVATORY: Target NEOs! Protecting Earth Citizen Scientists Target Near Earth Objects

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Dolores Hill, a Senior Research Specialist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, at the University of Arizon in Tucson.

Citizen scientists play an important role in astronomy. By capturing images of known asteroids over a long time period, amateur astronomers, students, and the public contribute to our understanding of asteroids.

Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) include asteroids nudged by the gravity of nearby planets into orbits that might intrude dangerously into Earth’s neighborhood. Amateur astronomers and astronomy organizations such as the Martz-Kohl Observatory (MKO), have access to research grade instrumentation and can devote time to observations that can fill in the gaps for professional astronomers who often are able to observe only a few asteroids a few nights per year.

Dr. Patrick Miller is a professor of mathematics at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX.

The public is invited to come to MKO in person on Wednesday evening, July 21, 2021 at 7:30, for a special Zoom teleconference. To attend from home via Zoom, simply go to https://martzobservatory.org/ and click on Target NEOs! Searching for and Characterizing Asteroids via Citizen Science, and scroll down to the One Click Link.

Attendees will learn how they can become involved in this new, exciting “Planetary Self-Defense” project by local citizen scientists in cooperation with the Martz-Kohl Observatory and search images provided during special campaigns from the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC).

The program, Target NEOs!, will be led by Dolores Hill, a Senior Research Specialist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and joined by a tag team of Dr. Patrick Miller and Carl Hergenrother.

Dolores has analyzed a wide range of meteorites at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, provided technical support, and participated in public outreach for space missions and LPL laboratories. Dolores currently works with sample teams for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, LPL laboratories, and coordinates LPL outreach activities.

She is a volunteer co-coordinator of the Astronomical League’s Target NEOs! observing program, formerly the mission’s Target Asteroids! citizen science program that was honored as a White House Champion of Change for Citizen Science in 2013. Dolores has a lifelong interest in amateur astronomy. Near-Earth asteroid (164215) Doloreshill is named after her.

Carl Hergenrother is co-coordinator of the Astronomical League’s Target NEOs!

Dr. Patrick Miller is a professor of mathematics at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX. He also teaches astronomy and astronomical research methods at the University. He founded the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) in October 2006, and serves as the Vice-President of the Permanent Council of the Global Hands-On Universe Association. Asteroid (4984) Patrickmiller is named in his honor.

Carl Hergenrother is co-coordinator of the Astronomical League’s Target NEOs! and an astronomer and discoverer of minor planets and comets. He has discovered and co-discovered 32 numbered asteroids at the Bigelow Sky Survey during 1993–1999. He was also a member of the science and operations team of the 2016-launched OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, a sample return mission to study near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu. The asteroid (3099) Hergenrother is named in his honor.

MKO is an all-volunteer operated, non-profit [501(c)(3)] association supported by local philanthropic organizations, visitors, guests, and members. MKO does not charge admission fees, but donations are appreciated, whether when visiting in person or online.