GAM2012 News

The International Asteroid School Collaboration (IASC) has announced that two schools participating in its special program for Global Astronomy Month (GAM 2012) have discovered previously unknown asteroids. The student discoverers will have the privilege of providing official names for these main belt asteroids, traveling in orbits between Mars and Jupiter, once they have been followed for several years to precisely determine their orbits (orbit diagrams below).

Five students from the Pierre & Marie Curie School in Nicaragua, S. Uthman, A. Othman, Z. Isadriana, R. Andrea, and H. Jimmy, discovered an asteroid that now has the official designation of 2012 FE52. This is the first school from Nicaragua to participate in an IASC program and they wasted no time in making their discovery just two days into the month-long event.

Meanwhile, the same night half a world away, asteroid 2012 FX42  was discovered by students in Beijing, China. The discoverers, K. Wang, H. Yao, W. Sun, and P. Li, are part of the China Hands-On Universe program.

The International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC=”Isaac”) is an online educational outreach program for high schools and colleges, in which students make original astronomical discoveries. Each day students receive telescopic images, only hours old and taken along the ecliptic. Using the software Astrometrica, they accurately measure the time and position of asteroids moving in the background. The measurements are recorded in a report sent to the Minor Planet Center (Harvard).

Each year 5000 students from 500 schools in more than 40 countries participate in IASC asteroid searches. There is no cost to the students or schools. Since starting in October 2006, 350 asteroids have been discovered, of which 15 have been numbered by the International Astronomical Union (Paris). Numbered asteroids are recorded in the world’s official minor planet catalog and can be named by their student discoverers.

The IASC-GAM program is part of Global Astronomy Month 2012 organized annually by Astronomers Without Borders.

Below are the student discoverers of 2012 FE52 of the Pierre and Marie Curie School in Nicaragua. From left to right are Isadriana Zelaya, Othman Al-Kufash, and Andrea Rodriguez Gutierrez. Standing left to right are Uthman Salama and Jimmy Hodgson.


The orbits of 2012 FE52, discovered by Nicaraguan students, and 2012-FX42, discovered by students in China, are shown below in plots provided by the NEO Project Database maintained by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.