The Search for Vulcanoid Asteroids

The Search for Vulcanoid Asteroids: It is a inner solar system quest that has been on-going since at least 1859.  The very innermost region of our solar system is known as the stable Vulcanoid zonei, and remains largely unexplored.  An asteroid whose mean distancei is less than that of Mercuryi’s distance to the Sun would be declared to reside within the Vulcanoid zone and would be called a Vulcanoid asteroid.  Because of reecent advances in astronomy, inexpensive CCDs, portable telescopes, image processing software, and the Inteternet you have an unprecedented opportunity for discovering Vulcanoid asteroids and to add to our knowledge of this region of space.

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up to date plan for Landon Noll

Coordinating Eclipse Observations

Here is my most up to date plan:

The following image shows my target field of view relative to the Sun during the 29 March 2006 Eclipse 80 km south of the Jalu Oasis in Libya near 28º17’53.5”N (28.2982ºN) - 21º34’10.9”E (21.5697ºE):

Landon Noll's 2006 eclipse target zone 

The above chart shows stars down to the 12th magnitude.  (A 12th magnitude Vulcanoid could be between 3.5km and 10km in diameter).  The dashed red line running through the Sun/Moon and the center of the rectangle is the ecliptici.  Zenithi is up.  The VEq red plus marks the Vernal equinox: the place where the Ecliptic and the Equator (0 deg declination) meet.  The magnitude of the brighter stars are marked by 2 or 3 digit numbers.  To get the visual magnitude, divide the number by 10.

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Landon Noll's target field and 2 cameras

Coordinating Eclipse Observations

As previously stated:

The following image shows my target field of view relative to the Sun during the 29 March 2006 Eclipse 80 km south of the Jalu Oasis in Libya near 28º17’53.5”N (28.2982ºN) - 21º34’10.9”E (21.5697ºE):

Landon Noll's 2006 eclipse target zone 

The above chart shows stars down to the 12th magnitude.  (A 12th magnitude Vulcanoid could be between 3.5km and 10km in diameter).  The dashed red line running through the Sun/Moon and the center of the rectangle is the ecliptici.  Zenithi is up.  The VEq red plus marks the Vernal equinox: the place where the Ecliptic and the Equator (0 deg declination) meet.  The magnitude of the brighter stars are marked by 2 or 3 digit numbers.  To get the visual magnitude, divide the number by 10.

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preliminary imaging tests with the Canon 20Da camera

Vulcanoid Imaging Techniques

This evening I performed some very preliminary imaging tests using the Canon EOS 20Da Red/almost-near-IR sensitive camera.  I was using a Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM lens with a B+W 72mm Infracolor Orange-to-IR Filter, a filter blocks light above 520nm and fully lets in light from 600nm well into the near IR (beyond 1000 nm).  Early results were encouraging.

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Searching for Vulcanoids article published in Sky & Telescope

Vulcanoid News

The Searching for Vulcanoids has been published in Sky & Telescope, Jan 2006, pp 87-89.

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Vulcanoid object characteristics

Miscellaneous Chit-Chat
I would like to point some things out and see if I am on the right track. A Vulcanoid object orbiting the sun should have the following characteristics: 1. Cannot be a captured iron meteor. The sun's magnetic field would cause magnetic braking drag and create an unstable spiral orbit. 2. The Vulcanoid would most likely be similar in composition to a carbonaceous chondrite meteor to exhibit your theoretical light reflection characteristics. The IR / red spectrum emissions would support this theory. 3. Orbital dynamics of the sun-mercury gravitational system would indicate an unstable highly eccentric orbital plane.
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Vulcanoid searchers need to collect data

Vulcanoid Imaging Techniques

It is important to remember that to do a Vulcanoid search one needs to collect data.  The normal image post-processing that one might do to clean up an image for submission to a magazine such as Sky & Telescope should not be done on your only copy of the data.

Image cleanup alters data and in some cases removes information.  The information that you lose could be the Vulcanoids that you are looking for!  Use Photoshop / Paintshop in a copy of the data if you must, but preserve  your original image data for Vulcanoids analysis.

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How large does it have to be to a Vulcanoid asteroid?

Vulcanoid Search Topics
How large does an object have to be to count as a Vulcanoid asteroid? At what point does something become just a dust?
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Eclipse tours?

Miscellaneous Chit-Chat
Can anyone recommend a good Eclipse tour or Eclipse-aware tour company for the March 29 2006 eclipse?
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Turn off noise reduction

Vulcanoid Imaging Techniques
For those planning on taking Vulcanoid images with a digital camera remember this important tip: turn off noise reduction!

OK, besides removing the lens cap :) turning off any camera noise reduction is critical. That tiny speck that noise reduction may smooth out could have been a Vulcanoid!

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