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Saturday, July 06, 2013


Asteroid 5099 Iainbanks (with Celestia add-on)

Asteroid 5009 Iainbanks taken with iTelescope T9 at 9 pm on Friday July 5. 5 x 3 inute exposures were stacked using ImageJ and SUMMED.Animated GIF of 5009 Iainbanks from two sequences shot an hour apart. The other moving things are all artifacts.
Celestia simulation showing the orbit of 5099 Iainbanks.The view towards Earth from Iainbanks, simulated in Celestia.

Iain Banks, a prolific and celebrated writer, died on 9 June 2013. He wrote both conventional and science fiction, publishing his science fiction works as Iain M Banks. He was one of my favourite novelists, his Culture novels works of soaring imagination, operating over huge swaths of the galaxy and of time. The solar system spanning artefacts his Culture dwellers created/inhabited put Larrry Niven's Ringworld Engineers to shame (Okay, okay, so the Orbitals were mini-Ringworlds, but he made a lot more of them, and other solar system wide structures).

On June 23rd the IAU named asteroid 5099 as iainbanks, a fitting tribute to a much loved science fiction author. I didn't hear of it until yesterday, so I took the opportunity to take some shots of the asteroid with iTelescopes T9 instrument. At magnitude 17 it's quite a bit dimmer than my usual quarry, and moving sufficiently slowly that I had to do two imaging runs an hour apart to see it move.

One thing puzzles me though, the article states of Iain Banks's Culture that
 "Thanks to their technology they are able to hollow out asteroids and use them as ships capable of faster-than-light travel while providing a living habitat with centrifugally-generated gravity for their thousands of denizens."
I don't actually remember that in his novels (some of the ships are gigantic, but I though they were made de novo by the Minds). Still the only more fitting memorial would be an asteroid on a hyperbolic orbit.

Of course I've made Celestia files for 5009 Iainbanks.  As usual, copy the data here to a plain text file (5099iainbanks.ssc) and copy the file to the Celestia extras folder. Sadly, there are no Culture add-ons in the Celestia Science Fiction section, but there is a Ringworld add-on.

"5099 Iainbanks" "Sol"

#Data from MPC http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/MPEph/MPEph.html
#Epoch 2013 Apr. 18.0 TT = JDT 2456400.5                 MPC
#M 224.98550              (2000.0)            P               Q
#n   0.25162303     Peri.  288.09916     +0.98702989     -0.15923578             T = 2456937.07449 JDT
#a   2.4848630      Node    81.06718     +0.15399094     +0.90320511             q =     2.3556400
#e   0.0520041      Incl.    1.18300     +0.04537395     +0.39857809
#P   3.92           H   13.1           G   0.15           U   0
#From 1286 observations at 20 oppositions, 1954-2013, mean residual 0".51.

    Class "asteroid"
    Mesh   "ky26.cmod"
    Texture "asteroid.jpg"
    Radius  3.05 # maximum semi-axis
    MeshCenter [ -0.000718 -0.000099 0.000556 ]

    InfoURL "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%285099%29_Iainbanks"

    Epoch                         2456400.5      # Epoch 2013 Apr. 18.0 TT = JDT 2456400.5
    Period                             3.92           # P
    SemiMajorAxis          2.4848630      # a
    Eccentricity                0.0520041      # e
    Inclination                  1.18300          # Incl.
    AscendingNode          81.06718       # Node
    ArgOfPericenter       288.09916       # Peri
    PericenterDistance      2.3556400     # q
    MeanAnomaly          224.98550       # M

    RotationPeriod 0.9 #Guess

    Albedo 0.15        #Based on typical Stony asteroids, rotation periods vary from one hour to one day


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What is "SUMMED"? A function/plugin for ImageJ? I have not heard of this.
When you have stacked your images go to Image | Stacks | Z-project, this brings up a dialog box and you can Choose Max, Median, Minimum, Summed. Average and Standard deviation for the projection type. SUMMED sums the stacks, good for dim things, Max and Median have their strengths in different situations (for comets and asteroids with slight star trailing Median works best). Play with them.
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