Highlights of Amateur Observer Program of 67P/CG (“Chury”)

By Padma A. Yanamandra-Fisher, Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A. Global Coordinator of Amateur Observations of 67P

The Amateur Observing Program in support of ESA/Rosetta mission has been a very busy campaign, especially post-perihelion (67P/CG was at its perihelion on 13 August 2015). As expected, 67P/CG (or “Chury” as it has been fondly nicknamed) has brightened during this period  and shown some interesting structure and morphology. Earlier blogs have highlighted the role of amateur observers and the value of their data in the overall observing campaign. (See http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov/news/role-amateur-astronomers-rosetta’s-mission ). As we start archiving  the data, we highlight some of the contributions of the robotic telescope network Slooh.com, with telescopes in Chile and Teide, Spain. Their support campaign, Slooh_67P, spans the entire period of 2014 – 2016, allowing the study of the evolution of the comet’s coma/tail (Figure 1); search for large scale structure in its tail (Figure 2); and comparable morphology with professional images acquired (credit: A. Fitzsimmons and Team, La Palma).

Figure 1-3

Christina Feliciano and Jonathan Tuten, of the Slooh_67P Team describe their experience:

“Our campaign, Slooh 67P, in support of the ESA/Rosetta and coordinated with JPL’s Amateur Observing Program via The PACA Project and Padma A. Yanamandra-Fisher, is structured to allow any Slooh member to participate in the program. The data is collected, uploaded to Slooh’s 67P collection and  processed to produce stacked images or MPC [Minor Planet Center] reports. The images are then shared with the PACA_67P Group. We iteratively discuss our images with Padma and Slooh members to further follow on interesting features observed. After observing the features in three independent observations, we share and discuss our observations with other amateur members in the PACA_Rosetta67P Facebook group. Participation in this campaign has been a great opportunity – both to contribute to a mission and also understand how, as amateurs, we can contribute data of  value to professionals. We can now easily see where a gap in observations can be filled by an amateur group when the right procedures are put into place. We look forward to post-collaboration with other 67P observers.”

Slooh_67P Team members: P. Cox (Slooh Coordinator), T. Evans, C. Feliciano (PI), G. Gasparovic, M. Hopkins,  P. Ilas, J. Koshkin, M. Kumrucu-Lohmiller, B. Lutkenhoner (MPC reports), M. Pittenbreigh,  G. Mitchell, J. Meyer, A. Paul, K. Smith, D. Syers, J. Tuten (Lead Member), R. Walker, S. Worthan, W. Yaeger and P. A. Yanamandra Fisher (ESA/Rosetta Global Coordinator for Amateur Observations), Slooh.com.

Update on Data Collection/Archive of Amateur Observers’ 67P Data

The amateur data will be archived in the ESA/Planetary Data Archive (PSA), and will be crowdsourced for collaborations with professional observers. A recent example is the collaboration of various Rosetta instrument teams, ground-based professional and amateur observations of the outburst that occurred on 19 February 2016. Amateur observers, with observations of comet 67P/CG, and not registered in the Amateur Observing Program, are requested to contact Dr. Padma A. Yanamandra-Fisher (padmayf@gmail.com)  to archive  their data. Be a part of history and share your observations!