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Jesuit Fr. Kikwaya Eluo is going after the ‘shooting stars’
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Vatican observatory astronomer Fr. Jean-Baptiste Kikwaya Eluo, S.J. studies solar system objects that are not so distant. His research interest is Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). NEOs are asteroids and comets whose orbits cause them to draw close to Earth’s orbit—closer than Venus, the planet whose orbit is least distant from Earth. That nearness to Earth, and thus the possible hazard NEOs pose to Earth and the need to be able to protect Earth from them, are what motivates Fr. Kikwaya Eluo to study them.

Recently Kikwaya Eluo, together with his collaborators, conducted observation campaigns that resulted in the observation and reduction and analysis of data from more than twenty objects. The results for four of these objects, for example, were reported in the paper “Lightcurves and Colors of Four Small Near-Earth Asteroids: 2020 BV14, 2023 HH3, 2023 HT3, 2023 KQ” by Kikwaya Eluo and C. W. Hergenrother, published in the Minor Planet Bulletin (volume 50, number 4) at the end of 2023.

Kikwaya Eluo and Hergenrother observed the four objects using the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT), located on Mt. Graham in Arizona (USA). They mapped out each object’s “lightcurve”. The lightcurve is the periodic variation in the apparent brightness of an object.
© Union of Catholic Asian News 2024
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