In Sicily a telescope for observations of near-Earth objects
On the island of the sun, the sea and the art is taking shape a structure that has already attracted strong interest in the scientific community.
The Astronomical Park of the Madonie, new pearl of the City of Isnello (PA), is about to become a happy reality. The mountain range that houses it turns out to be one of the best observing sites in the world. They give reason several studies.
The center for research, dissemination and teaching of the sciences of astronomy, has its fulcrum in the observing station, whose flagship is the wide-field telescope class of one meter, 10-degree square field observable, i.e. space it enters ten times the diameter of the full moon: the only instrument of its kind in Europe in order to preserve the record for several years.
It is a jewel available for use “remote” for the location of which was chosen the top of Mount Mufara (Battle Ground), at an altitude of 1,865 meters above sea level, which will be the highest observatory in the territory.
Of particular value, even for NASA, which has expressed interest in it, the observations astrometric and photometric properties of near-Earth objects (NEOs), small planetary objects (asteroids and comets) whose orbit is close to that of the Earth (equal or below the 0.3 astronomical units): this makes it a risk factor for our planet. That’s why to be constantly monitored, both to better define the orbits of those already discovered and to identify those still unknown. Currently, more than 10,000 are known NEOs, with sizes ranging from a few meters to about 30 km (for 1036 Ganymed). The total number may be of some tens of thousands.
Every night the large asteroid survey supported the US space agency (such as linear, or Loneos Catalina Sky Survey) identify several new NEO that reported to the Minor Planet Center at Harvard, must be immediately graded (follow-up) by observers proposed to be confirmed and receive a provisional designation.
The photometric observation of these objects allows, also, to derive the rotational period and the shape, providing valuable information on their nature. For such research is significant interest from the European Space Agency (ESA), the Italian Space Agency (ASI), University of Pisa and the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF). The operating range of the telescope Isnello however, will be on a larger scale.