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Home » Observatory at Keystone College » Minor Planet Project

Minor Planet Project

Thomas G. Cupillari Observatory ’60 has been issued an Observatory Code I17 designation from the Minor Planet Center.

Submitting the Required Data

During 2009 the Observatory staff prepared for submission of the necessary required astrometry data of minor planets to the Minor Planet Center. Observatory codes are assigned to observatories that report astrometry observations of minor planets, comets or irregular natural satellites. An observatory code is assigned upon receipt of acceptable observations. Codes are intended for permanent observing sites.

MPC Responsibility

The MPC is responsible for the designation of minor bodies in the solar system: minor planets; comets, in conjunction with the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT); and natural satellites (also in conjunction with CBAT). The MPC is also responsible for the efficient collection, computation, checking and dissemination of astrometry observations and orbits for minor planets and comets.


Photos taken with a CCD camera and the RC Optics 20 inch f/8.1 telescope, were used to measure the position of asteroid in the Main Belt. The telescope was programmed to slew to a selected asteroid, taken a series of images with the CCD camera, then move on to the next minor planet in the program. This process repeated every 20 minutes to image the same asteroid movement in the course of an hour.

Reduced Positional Data

The Observatory staff provided the reduced positional data to the MPC via a format coded email. These observations are reviewed for accuracy and format before acceptance. Keystone College Thomas G. Cupillari Observatory Code was approved by the MPC on December 24, 2009. Keystone College Thomas G. Cupillari Observatory ’60 is capable of making astrometry observations of acceptable quality and assigned the Observatory Code of I17 Thomas G. Cupillari Observatory, Fleetville. The code is listed on the Minor Planet Center web site.

Subsequent submitted data carry the MPC code I17. The data is used to refine the orbits of Minor Planets in the Solar System. These include bodies in the Main Belt, Kupier Belt, those near the Earth and comets. As of April 2010 over 150 astrometry measurement have been submitted to the Minor Planet Center.

The staff continues to image minor planets and reduce their celestial position throughout the year. The Observatory will be use same telescope and camera to monitor selected variable stars.