Klet Observatory – European Contribution to Detecting and Tracking of Near Earth Objects

Miloš Tichý

Abstract


Near Earth Object (NEO) research is an expanding field of astronomy. Is is important for solar system science and also for protecting human society from asteroid and comet hazard.  A near-Earth object (NEO) can be defined as an asteroid or comet that has a possibility of making an approach to the Earth, or possibly even collide with it. The discovery rate of current NEO surveys reflects progressive improvement in a number of technical areas. An integral part of NEO discovery is astrometric follow-up fundamental for precise orbit computation and for the reasonable judging of future close encounters with the Earth including possible impact solutions. A wide international cooperation is fundamental for NEO research.  The Klet Observatory (South Bohemia, Czech Republic) is aimed especially at the confirmation, early follow-up, long-arc follow-up and recovery of Near Earth Objects. It ranks among the world´s most prolific professional NEO follow-up programmes.  The first NEO follow-up programme started at Klet in 1993 using 0.57-reflector equipped with a small CCD camera. A fundamental upgrade was made in 2002 when the 1.06-m KLENOT telescope was put into regular operation. The KLENOT Telescope is the largest telescope in Europe used exclusively for observations of minor planets (asteroids) and comets and full observing time is dedicated to the KLENOT team.  Equipment, technology, software, observing strategy and results of both the Klet Observatory NEO Project between 1993-2010 and the first phase of the KLENOT Project from March 2002 to September 2008 are presented. They consist of thousands of precise astrometric measurements of Near Earth Objects and also three newly discovered Near Earth Asteroids.  Klet Observatory NEO activities as well as our future plans fully reflect international strategies and cooperation in the field of NEO studies.

Keywords


astrometry, Near Earth Objects, telescope

References


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