The latest round of winners in the Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) Grant program, named after pioneering planetary geologist Gene Shoemaker, was recently announced by The Planetary Society. Shoemaker grants support very advanced amateur astronomers around the world in their efforts to find, track, and characterize near Earth asteroids and one of this year’s winners is Croatian Višnjan Observatory!

The world’s professional sky surveys alone cannot handle the burden of defending the Earth from potentially dangerous asteroids and that is why the Shoemaker grant awards astronomers around the world who contribute in particular to two areas of planetary defense: characterization and tracking. Some winners focus on asteroid characterization to determine asteroid properties, while others focus on a sky position tracking observations that are necessary for calculating orbits, which tells us whether an asteroid will hit Earth.

In this round of grants, 6 proposals are awarded a total of $57,906. The winners are from 4 countries on 3 continents. A 2019 Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO Grant will help Višnjan Observatory in Croatia perform astrometric measurements of newly discovered near-Earth objects.

Korado Korlević, of Višnjan Observatory in Croatia, is awarded $10,825 to recoat the observatory’s telescope’s 1-meter mirror, and to purchase a new coma corrector and associated hardware. The results will enable observing much dimmer objects (to magnitude 22.4) and will expand significantly the usable field of view. The Višnjan Observatory focuses on follow-up astrometric measurements of newly discovered near-Earth objects. They contributed to the follow-up of more than 1400 NEOs in the last two years and also host educational visits by middle and high school students.

Photo source: Višnjan Observatory Facebook

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