…Report a Discovery

A how-to:

IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams

From: http://www.cbat.eps.harvard.edu/DiscoveryInfo.html

Information You Should Include In A Discovery Report

IMPORTANT NOTICE (2001 Sept. 11):

We regret that the WWW report form ceased to function following an upgrade of the OS on the webserver (note that no recompilation or relinking was performed…). Until such time as this form is fixed, use this mailto link or your own e-mail software to send messages.

If you send your discovery report or proposed IAUC item via e-mail, but please do not send e-mail encoded in HTML or in any kind of PC-software binary language — only in plain ASCII text. Especially if using a PC, please enter a RETURN character at the end of each on-screen line (i.e., after every 70 characters or so) to prevent very long lines being mailed.

All discovery reports should include the following:

  • your name
  • your address and contact details (preferably e-mail address, otherwise telephone/fax number)
  • date and UT time of observation
  • observation method (e.g., naked eye, visual telescopic observation, photographic, or telescopic CCD)
  • specific details on instrumentation (aperture size, f/-ratio, etc.) and exposures (type of film or CCD, length of exposure, etc.)
  • observation site (name of location, giving either city/town and state/province/country, or some other geographical name nearby); longitude and latitude and elevation above sea level can be useful
  • Professional astronomers: If you are assigning a new designation to a newly discovered object, to avoid delays, please use IAU-approved designations (see information on IAU designations and IAU recommendations for designations; an example is SDSS designations)

We do *not* encourage observers to submit images in any fashion, because we generally do not have sufficient staff resources to analyze many such images. If you wish to submit CCD images in support of your discovery claim, please ask us first (i.e., do not send images unsolicited and until we ask you to do so), and please read these notes.

What not to include in your report: any html encoding or any binary text (as with images; wait for our agreement to accept your images by personal e-mail before sending any images — we prefer that you place images at your own website and send us the URL).

If you are a new contributor to the CBAT, please provide some background information regarding your observing experience. It is recommended that observations be made of a suspected object more than once — separated by at least an hour and preferably a day.

It is imperative to have more than one CCD or photographic image of a suspect, as it may be a defect or flaw of some sort. Please also see IAUCs 6737 and 6739.

Additional information that we require for different types of objects is described below. Discovery report submitted without sufficient information will not be acted upon.


Comets

Read an article on what information comet discoverers should report.

You can search for known comets at our website, by entering the UT decimal date and the celestial equatorial coordinates of a suspect.


Supernovae

Please include:

  • the identity and position (as precisely as possible, noting the equinox of the position) of the host galaxy (e.g., NGC 5228 or UGC 1039)
  • the magnitude of the suspect (with bandpass, and UT dates given to 0.01 or 0.001 day)
  • a precise position for the suspect — this is considered mandatory for CCD observations (see the Guide to Minor Body Astrometry for information on how to obtain precise coordinates), and should normally be given to 0s.01 in R.A. and to 0″.1 in Decl.
    • be sure to provide the offset (in seconds of arc) north/south and east/west of the galaxy nucleus.
    • avoid ambiguous terms such as “left”, “right”, “above” and “below”
  • observations on a second night showing that the object has not moved
  • indicate how you have determined that the object is new (e.g., comparison to named atlases, observation the previous night, etc.) and whether you have checked for known supernovae and/or minor planets in the area. You can use this on-line form to check for minor planets. You should also check the General Catalogue of Variable Stars and the AAVSO’s online list of variable stars for known variable stars, quasars, etc.
  • provide dates, bandpasses, and limiting magnitudes for reference images that do not show the new object; give as many details on these images as possible, including where and by whom they were taken (if possible).
  • for fainter objects (particularly fainter than visual or red mag 17-18) that are within 1-2 magnitudes of the reference-image’s limiting magnitude, careful checking for possible active galactic nuclei should be made (there are tens of thousands of known AGNs that vary from tenths to several full magnitudes, some over timescales of hours or days); be sure to check the catalogue by the Vérons.

Please check the the CBAT supernova catalogue webpage and the the PSN webpage, as well as recent IAUCs and/or CBETs, to see if your supernova candidate has already been announced.

Note that the spectral response of unfiltered CCDs enhances red objects in CCD images: red stars (such as Mira variables) appear much brighter than they appear visually, and that atlas photographs of bright galaxies generally have the nuclear region overexposed. Please also see IAUCs 6737 and 6739.


Novae

Be sure to check the GCVS lists for other known variable stars in the vicinity, before reporting a report of a possible nova.

Always report:

  • the position (as precisely as possible, noting equinox of position). CCD observations are expected to be able to provide a precise position for the suspect (see the Guide to Minor Body Astrometry for information on how to obtain precise coordinates).
  • the magnitude of the suspect (with bandpass, and UT dates given to 0.01 or 0.001 day)
  • indicate how you have determined that the object is new, e.g.: comparison to named atlases, observation the previous night, etc.) and whether you have checked for the presence of known variable stars and/or minor planets in the area (and if so, what catalogues you referred to). You can use this on-line form to check for minor planets.
  • provide dates, bandpasses, and limiting magnitudes for reference images that do not show the new object; give as many details on these images as possible, including where and by whom they were taken (if possible).
  • Indicate that you have checked the General Catalogue of Variable Stars and the AAVSO’s online list of variable stars for known variable stars, quasars, etc.

Please also see IAUCs 6737 and 6739. Note that the spectral response of unfiltered CCDs enhances red objects in CCD images: red stars (such as Mira variables) appear much brighter than they appear visually.


Outbursts Of Unusual Variable Stars

The IAUCs frequently contain information regarding unusual behavior of particularly interesting variables stars besides novae and supernovae; these usually fall into two classes:

  1. R CrB-type stars undergoing a fading; and
  2. cataclysmic variables undergoing outbursts in brightness for the first time in more than two years.

Be sure to report both the designation and position (as precisely as possible, noting the equinox) of the variable star. Reporting both designation and position helps to avoid misidentification. Note the date of the last outburst. Please also see IAUCs 6737 and 6739.

Information on “more routine” variables and on newly-discovered variable stars should be directed to organizations such as the American Association of Variable Star Observers (e-mail to aavso@cfa.harvard.edu) or to the Information Bulletin on Variable Stars published for the International Astronomical Union’s Commission on Variable Stars by the Konkoly Observatory, Budapest XII, P.O. Box 114, Box 67, Hungary (see IAU Link).


Features On Planetary Surfaces

Identify the planet and state the longitude, latitude and system (for features on Jupiter and Saturn) of the feature. Describe the feature, noting its size and show that it is new and significant.

_____________________________________

HOW TO REPORT IT:

How to Report a Discovery

Discovery of many kinds of transient astronomical phenomena (e.g., comets, novae, supernovae, etc.) should be reported to the CBAT. The Bureau is responsible for assigning designations to comets and supernovae.

Meteor(ite)/fireball reports should not be reported to the Bureau, but to the Fireball Data Center of the International Meteor Organization (e-mail: idac@imo.net).

Discoveries of new minor planets should be reported to the Minor Planet Center.

A listing of the information that you should include in any discovery report concerning comets, supernovae, novae, outbursts of variable stars, or features on planetary surfaces is available.

If you wish to report a discovery you may report it in this manner. Please ensure that you have read the documentation on what information you should include in your report — incomplete reports may be ignored. You should e-mail a report directly to cbatiau@eps.harvard.edu. Note that some information about the type of object and the nature of the observation should appear in the subject header; because of spam-filtering software, a subject line left blank will normally be thrown out (subject to later manual sifting) and could be lost permanently.

Please read this to see how to represent non-standard characters.

ALERT! We have introduced additional screening software to block spam e-mail, due to its prolific increase; it is strongly recommended that those sending e-mail to the CBAT (or ICQ or MPC) remove ALL html-encoded text, as we cannot read such text easily (we do not use web browsers for reading e-mail) and such text may be deleted by our anti-spam software. (This means: send plain ASCII text *only*, *not* plain ASCII text plus html-encoded text in same message.) [11/14/03]

Some items submitted for publication in the IAUCs are assessed line charges. Here is a description of which items are subject to line charges and the current line-charge rates.

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