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IU Program Identified 119 New Asteroids Over 28 Years

Dr. Frank Edmondson

Photo: Courtesy IU Archives

The program launched in 1949 by Hoosier astronomy legend Frank Edmondson -- aimed to locate and calculate the orbits of asteroids "lost" during World War II.

The headline reads, “Edmondson looks back at 50 years with IU astronomy.” Frank Edmondson had quite a career during his 50 years at IU, most notably founding the Indiana Asteroid Program.

The program archived around 7,000 photographic plates used for asteroid discovery and orbit mapping in this shed behind the Goethe Link Observatory near Martinsville. Link Observatory Managing Director John Shepherd says the clear skies were optimal for asteroid research until the industrialization of central Indiana made accurate space photography difficult.

“As Martinsville and Mooresville become more of a light dome, we couldn’t do any more faint, fuzzy work. We have to do something else. So, here we are.”

The Link Observatory is still in use today for educational purposes and astronomy conferences.

“This place is a great place. My wife calls it my mistress,” Shepherd says.

As part of the Indiana Astronomical Society’s educational outreach, the observatory’s telescope is occasionally open to the public. Executive Director Greg McCauley says a lot of people have never looked through a telescope before.

“It’s a common story that people will look through a large telescope at Saturn and just be hooked for life.”

The next opportunity for star gazing at the observatory is Saturday, August 23 from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m.

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