Center for Solar System Studies

Brian D. Warner

Bob Stephens and Brian Warner joined Courtney Coe of Space Science Institute (Boulder, CO) to celebrate the end of a successful Division of Planetary Sciences meeting in Nantes, France, in 2011.

Click on the photo to view a number of photo albums highlighting "Bob and Brian's Most Excellent DPS Adventure."
As Principal Investigator on NSF and NASA grants, I'm required to keep an up-to-date list of publications. I suppose going back to 1999 may be too much, but it is nice to compare those early days when just getting started with asteroid photometry to today's efforts.

The many publications appearing in the Minor Planet Bulletin (for Bob Stephens and Dan Coley as well) are just as noteworthy as any other "professional journal." In 2012, the SAO/NASA Astrophysical Database finally reconized the MPB as a refereed journal, giving it equal status with those big-name journals (the link automatically looks for only my MPB papers)

"Stop! You're looking through the wrong end!"
"But I can see just fine."
"If you look through the other end, things will be BIGGER and appear closer."
"Oh! - You're right!"

And so Galileo took my advice and astronomical history was made.

I've been interested in astronomy since fifth grade, meaning I've been interested in astronomy for almost 50 years (it only seems like it was back in Galileo's time). I bought my first telescope, a 60-mm refractor, in the middle 1960's. The first object I looked at was - as it so often is for new telescope owners - Saturn. I was hooked from then on.

The real story starts in 1999 when I attended the first Minor Planet Amateur-Professional Workshop at Lowell Observatory (Flagstaff, AZ). I presented a talk detailing the beginning of my program to do asteroid lightcurves with the purpose of finding their rotation rates. At the time, amateurs were still making a number of new discoveries (I have all of three to my name), but it was clear that professional surveys were going to take over that game and amateurs wanting to do science needed to find other areas to explore.

Since 1999, I've published more than 2000 lightcurves in the Minor Planet Bulletin. The first 1200 or so were obtained from the Palmer Divide Observatory, located just north of Colorado Springs, CO. I've also discovered more than a dozen known binaries among the Hungaria asteroids along with 6 strong suspects.

The five telescopes at PDO were moved to the CS3 grounds in spring 2013 to create the CS3-Palmer Divide Station (CS3-PDS). This increased the number of usable nights from about 160 to almost 270 each year. That's a lot of extra photons!

If you want the gory details, read the CV to the left.

Save the Lightcurves!
The project of most importance to me is making sure that asteroid lightcurve photometry not be lost. In the past, "dusty filing cabinets" stored a wealth of hard copy data that were eventually lost to time when the person(s) in charge passed on. The modern equivalent is the computer hard drive. If you do asteroid lightcurve work, or any kind of telescope science, publish your analysis and results and then submit your data to a public database so that future researchers can have access and do work that you may not have imagined but would be impossible without your data.

Visit the site for more information about ALCDEF (Asteroid Lightcurve Data Exchange Format) and how you can save the lightcurves!