Arushi Nath. Grade 8 Student. Toronto.

Arushi Nath

On 5 October 2022, I will be delivering a presentation on the photometric observations I have been undertaking on the Didymos asteroid system at the monthly meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto.


My presentation slides

The presentation, “Photometric observations of Didymos asteroid system before the impact: Using robotic telescopes, open datasets, and maths” would cover observations taken prior to 26 September 2022. Everyone is welcome to view the presentation live online at: interact with speakers and ask questions. It will also be recorded and become available for later viewing.

More information about this event, starting 7.30pm onwards, as well as other speakers talking on astronomy-related projects, is available at

On 26 September 2022, 7:14 p.m. EDT, the NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission successfully impacted Dimorphos – the moonlet of Didymos as a part of its first planetary defense technology demonstration. I have been following the DART mission for the past year, learning more about the project goals, how they plan to achieve them, and evaluating if the mission is a success. It has allowed me to explore how citizen scientists can contribute to this project.

The asteroid moonlet Dimorphos is 160 meters in diameter and orbits the asteroid Didymos, which is 780-meter in diameter. Neither of them poses a threat to Earth. Understanding the dynamics of the asteroid system namely the orbital period of the moonlet prior to the impact will serve as a baseline against which to measure the outcomes of the DART’s impact. The current orbital period of the satellite (P orb) is 11.92 hours.

Stacking 14 Images of DIdymos System taken from Robotic Telescope in Chile on 1 October by Arushi Nath

If DART succeeds in altering Dimorphos’ path, the moonlet will move closer toward Didymos, shortening the time it takes to orbit it. Researchers expect the kinetic impact on Dimorphos to shorten its orbit by about 1%, or roughly 10 minutes. One of the primary goals of this planetary defense test mission is to precisely measure how much the asteroid deflected. It will provide essential data should a real planetary defense mission be needed in future to prevent an asteroid from colliding with Earth.

I have been using robotic telescopes in Chile and Australia to take photometric measurements to generate light curves. As lots of observations are needed to create accurate light curves, I am collaborating with other astronomers and making use of open datasets to further my citizen science research. I will continue making these photometric observations to assess the outcome of the impact and measure changes in the orbital period of the Didymos system.

I will be presenting the initial post-impact findings at the next monthly meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada on 2 November 2022.

Details about my post DART Impact findings:

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