Binary asteroids are discovered by astro-photometry, which is a series of pictures of the asteroid where the brightness of the asteroid is compared with the background stars and plotted over time.
That data is then provided to a centre in the Czech Republic where it is combined with data from other collaborating observers and reduced using a sophisticated algorithm to determine if the asteroid is in fact binary.
Dr Oey got involved in astro-photometry at a minor planet conference in Port Stephens and began searching for asteroids through a high-powered telescope in his observatory in Leura in the Blue Mountains, which he operates remotely from his Kings Cross home.
“My routine is that I go home, have dinner, help my daughter Sinead with her homework and then open up the observatory remotely and tell the telescope to take a certain number of pictures throughout the night,” he said.
“Sinead is one of the main motivators for me in my astronomical work — I see it as being a good role model for her.”
To follow Dr Oey’s astronomical discoveries, visit bluemountainsobservatory. com.au
HE’S a dentist by day, a gentleman astronomer by night and now his name is flying through space between Mars and Jupiter.
Potts Point dentist Julian Oey has become well known in the field of astro-photometry in the last 10 years.
He has discovered four rare binary asteroids and co-discovered eight others; something he said was quite an achievement.
“When you discover a comet, it’s automatically named after you, but to have an asteroid named after you, you have to get nominated,” Dr Oey said.
“Those who nominate you are usually very important people in the astronomy community.”
Dr Oey was nominated by Alan Harris from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Petr Pravec from the Ondrejov Observatory in the Czech Republic and the julianoey asteroid was officially named in Prague at a banquet last week.
A binary asteroid is an asteroid body with a satellite around it and is the field of astronomy Dr Oey is most interested in.