Serendipitous asteroid lightcurve survey using SuperWASP

Parley, N. R.; McBride, N.; Green, S. F.; Haswell, C. A.; Clarkson, W. I.; Norton, A. J.; Christian, D. J.; Fitzsimmons, A.; Keenan, F. P.; Pollacco, D.; Ryans, R.; Street, R. A.; Collier-Cameron, A.; Horne, K.; Lister, T. A.; Evans, N. A.; Hellier, C; Hodgkin, S. T.; Irwin, J.; Kane, S. R.; Osborne, J. P.; West, R. G.; Skillen, I. and Wheatley, P. J. (2005). Serendipitous asteroid lightcurve survey using SuperWASP. Earth, Moon, and Planets, 97(3-4) pp. 261–268.



The SuperWASP project is an ultra-wide angle search for extra solar planetary transits. However, it can also serendipitously detect solar system objects, such as asteroids and comets. Each SuperWASP instrument consists of up to eight cameras, combined with high-quality peltier-cooled CCDs, which photometrically survey large numbers of stars in the magnitude range 7-15. Each camera covers a 7.8 x 7.8 degree field of view. Located on La Palma, the SuperWASP-I instrument has been observing the Northern Hemisphere with five cameras since its inauguration in April 2004.

The ultra-wide angle field of view gives SuperWASP the possibility of discovering new fast moving (near to Earth) asteroids that could have been missed by other instruments. However, it provides an excellent opportunity to produce a magnitude-limited lightcurve survey of known main belt asteroids. As slow moving asteroids stay within a single SuperWASP field for several weeks, and may be seen in many fields, a survey of all objects brighter than magnitude 15 is possible. This will provide a significant increase in the total number of lightcurves available for statistical studies without the inherent bias against longer periods present in the current data sets.

We present the methodology used in the automated collection of asteroid data from SuperWASP and some of the first examples of lightcurves from numbered asteroids.

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