On my growing list of ancillary things that I would like to do — which includes planting more plants around the house, organizing my basement, and transferring my VHS videos of David Letterman's anniversary shows onto DVD — is to obtain a few photos of the asteroid that's named for me. Besides wanting a better picture for myself, I want to make a plaque to give to my father so he can show people "his" asteroid. (It will be a surprise, so don't tell him about it! The plaque, that is — he knows about the small solar-system body.)
Since I'd like to do this myself, I figure my best chance of obtaining images that I would be happy with would be to buy some time on one of the increasing number of remotely controlled telescopes — but I haven't quite gotten around to it. Maybe I should prepare, as my rock is at opposition in mid-February.
This week I learned of a new remote-telescope project that is now underway. Gianluca Masi sent me information about the Virtual Telescope he has set up as his Bellatrix Observatory in Italy. It's aimed at schools and individuals interested in personal research projects.
As part of the launch, Masi is running a Discover Your Sky! competition. Groups have until the end of February 2007 to suggest interesting observing projects for the telescope. Besides free time on his scope, he's offering other astronomical prizes.