Observing Notebook Guidelines

When conducting any type of research, it is essential that all steps be documented. An observing notebook is used in this program and should document all of your work on the orbit determination problem. Class notes and other information should not be kept in this book.

Here are some general guidelines:

  1. All work in the notebook should either be in pen or a computer printout, which should be neatly taped into the notebook.
  2. The first page should be a Table of Contents, which you will update with each addition to the notebook. Pages should be numbered.
  3. For future reference, before each observing session, you should record the particular conditions and settings of instruments of the session, as well as the area of the sky that you will need to actually observe. You will need to submit your preparatory work to the TAs for review (by the posted deadline) before your observation time slot.
  4. During the observation, if something is noteworthy, write it down! Examples include: weather, malfunctioning of equipment, airplanes going through your field of view, particular actions you and your team took, whether or not you were able to see your asteroid.
  5. Later in the program, when you complete a project that will be incorporated into the OD (for example, your LSPR program), you should print out the code and paste it into the notebook neatly with a brief explanation (because your code ought to be so well-commented that it should really explain itself).


At a minimum, when the TAs look over your notebook before observation we expect to see the following:

  • Your team name/number
  • Latitude and Longitude of observatory
  • Observation number and asteroid name
  • Time and date in UTC & local time
  • Observing period (early, middle, late)
  • Telescope information (Apollo, Artemis, or a remote observation)
  • Ephemeris printout from JPL Horizons (table including Date and Time in UTC, RA, Dec, Azimuth, Elevation, LST,  Apparent Magnitude, and Target-Observer-Moon angle)
  • Cloud cover/weather for observing period
  • Moon phase
  • Computed Hour Angle
  • Useful information: anything that might help you or be useful to know while you are observing. For instance: is the asteroid high or low in the sky? Is the asteroid going to be near the moon? Does the asteroid rise or set at any time during any observing periods?
  • Finally: a print out of your sky chart. The chart should be zoomed in so that the field of view of the telescope takes up about 75% of the chart. On your chart make sure you mark the expected trajectory of the asteroid over the course of the session.



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