The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has blamed amateur astronomers for finding two asteroids in the small village of Lauragais, south of Haute-Garonne. One of these asteroids will no longer bear the name Palesta, and the other the name of their association.
Since 1996, Patrick Martினnez has been one of the five founding members of the Adagio Association (Editor’s note: The Association for the Amateur Development of a Large Surveillance Equipment) that has been managing the Palesta Laboratory in Laragois, the small village of Revel and Villefranche-de-Laurais with a population of about a hundred. He is the first person to discover two asteroids since 2007. He looks back on this extraordinary event.
“Searching for meteorites is a difficult task because it is difficult to distinguish these celestial bodies from the stars. The only difference we can really notice at our level is that they move,” he explains. “The International Astronomical Union needs two nights of observation first to compare the position of the identified celestial bodies. If this is admitted, a temporary number will be assigned to these celestial bodies, but only after many years of observation will it be possible to determine whether the celestial body is indeed a new invention. The International Astronomical Union records it with a definite number and its discoverer is authorized to give the asteroid a baptismal name. He adds.
Therefore, at the end of 2021, two of the first asteroids discovered in Palestine in 2008 were systematically recorded and attributed to this laboratory. The members of the association decided to baptize the first “Bellasta” in memory of the village of Laragois, which runs the Observatory and the second in memory of the “Adagio” Society. Thirty members of the association take care of this laboratory, which has an 82 cm telescope, one of the most powerful amateur telescopes in France.
If it were installed on the Pic du Midi, this telescope would be the third largest on the site by its diameter. Research work is being carried out in collaboration with professional astronomers, and a contract from 2018 will link the Belesta laboratory with the French Astronomical Society. To celebrate the event, asteroid baptism will take place in the village on June 6 at 9pm, with a reception and a visit to the observatory.
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