Home » How to use Astroquery to obtain the comet observation data provided by Minor Planet Center in “Astrodata Science”? – Astro Backpack Hacker (@astrobackhacker)

How to use Astroquery to obtain the comet observation data provided by Minor Planet Center in “Astrodata Science”? – Astro Backpack Hacker (@astrobackhacker)

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How to use Astroquery to obtain the comet observation data provided by Minor Planet Center in “Astrodata Science”?  – Astro Backpack Hacker (@astrobackhacker)

The “Data Science of Tianwen” column uses astronomical news from websites such as Taipei Planetarium and Tainan Nanying Planetarium as the theme, introduces relevant open data and open source software, and guides readers to use Python programs to obtain, pre-process, analyze and visualize these material. Through the above data science steps, the public can experience the discovery process of astronomical knowledge and get closer to the starry sky. In addition, this column is also part of the “Astronomical Data Science” educational product development plan. If you want to experience more journeys of generating new astronomical knowledge from data, please fill out this survey form, so that I can respond to your needs And suggestions, formulate teaching content and presentation methods that suit you.

A detective who investigates comets with Python. This picture is created by me with Midjourney AI.

An islander was watching the live broadcast of the observation of comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) by the Nanying Planetarium in Tainan. He noticed that the live broadcaster used Stellarium, an open-source astrological simulation software, to indicate the current position of the comet in the night sky. He was curious: on what basis does Stellarium display and predict the position of comets?

“That’s why the client entrusted us to conduct an investigation at Astronomical Digital Intelligence,” said PM Er Nao Wu. “In addition, he also provided a clue: in order for Stellarium to be able to display the position of the comet, the data provided by the Minor Planet Center must be imported from the settings page.”

Black Egg calls out to his AI collaborators after watching the video of the investigation mission description.

“Hey python, could you please explain what the Minor Planet Center is, and then, I would like to know if there is any Python package that can be used to obtain the information it provides.”

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“Minor Planet Center is an international astronomical organization responsible for collecting, maintaining and releasing data related to the orbits of small solar system bodies such as comets and asteroids, such as their orbital parameters, positions and velocities. Its official website provides data search and download Interface,” i Python continued after a pause. “However, if you want to use Python to obtain these data, Astroquery is the most convenient. This suite provides multiple modules that can connect to different astronomical database services to obtain relevant data. The astroquery.mpc module is used for Get information from the Minor Planet Center. Shall I generate the astroquery.mpc sample code for you?”

“No, please introduce the data query functions of the astroquery.mpc module first.”

“Okay, first of all, you can connect to the Minor Planet Center Web Service through MPC.query_object() to obtain the orbital parameter information of a comet or asteroid, such as orbital inclination, semi-major axis, eccentricity, etc. Then , MPC.get_observations() can query from the Minor Planet Center Observations Database the time when a comet or asteroid was observed by an observatory, the coordinate position and brightness in the sky. For example, you can query C/2007 N3, which is produced by Taiwan Observation data of comets discovered by Lulin Observatory. In addition, the codes of the observatory can be obtained through MPC.get_observatory_codes(), such as the code of Lulin Observatory is D35. Finally, if you want to know the future positions and Trajectories, you can use MPC.get_ephemeris(), it will get the ephemeris data of comets or asteroids from the Minor Planet Ephemeris Service. Let me show you how…”

“Huh? Wait,” Heidan interrupted the python. “What is an ephemeris?”

“The ephemeris is a data table used to record when and where celestial bodies will appear. It can help people predict celestial phenomena and find the celestial bodies they want to watch.”

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“Well…how is the ephemeris made? How can it predict where celestial bodies will appear?”

“In order to make an ephemeris, it is necessary to observe the position, velocity and brightness of the celestial body at different times, and then calculate the orbital parameters of the celestial body based on celestial mechanics and numerical simulation, and then understand its trajectory and predict the position of the celestial body. In addition, because Small celestial bodies such as comets may be affected by the sun’s gravity and radiation, causing orbit changes, so new observation data will be used to correct the ephemeris.”

The corners of Heidan’s mouth raised slightly. He remembered the tragedy that the host of the comet observation live broadcast mentioned that the comet he studied was scattered when it passed the sun.

“So, will the ephemeris be affected by the observation location? After all, people in different regions may see celestial bodies in different directions.”

“Yes, the ephemeris will vary depending on the longitude, latitude, and altitude of the observation location. The ephemeris returned by MPC.get_ephemeris() defaults to the center of the earth as the observation point, but location can be used parameter to specify the observatory number or the latitude and longitude altitude value.”

“Oh, I understand. Next, please add a survey report named comet.ipynb on Colab. First, organize the function introduction of the astroquery.mpc module. Then, use these functions in the survey report to demonstrate How to obtain the data of the two comets C/2007 N3 and C/2022 E3, the observation location of the ephemeris should be at the Lulin Observatory.”

“Okay, while you’re waiting, let me perform a short cross talk for you.” i Python played a video on the screen.

“Janet: Hey, Sheldon who knows more jokes than Siri, I recently saw a column called “Data Science from Tianwen”, have you heard of it?

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Sheldon: Tianwen’s data science? This is a very popular column on the Internet at present! The author wanted to use this to shorten the distance between us and the starry sky.

Janet: Yes, yes, I really want to be a fan of this column now. Do you know what to do?

Sheldon: Janet from a good place, you asked the right person. To become a fan, you can bookmark the Writing NFT of this column.

Janet: NFTs? Did you write a horizontal line less, you mean NET, right?

Sheldon: Hey, don’t be scolded! NFT is the abbreviation of Non-Fungible Token. All you have to do is to select your favorite articles from the author’s Writing NFT showcase, and then press the favorite button to purchase the collection with a credit card or cryptocurrency $LIKE.

Janet: Oh, then I have to quickly support this author and become a die-hard fan.

Sheldon: That’s right, don’t hesitate any longer, immediately bookmark the Writing NFT of the “Tianwen’s Data Science” column!

Janet, Sheldon: ChatGPT stepped down and bowed. “

“Hiss~~~ The investigation report has been completed, please click this link to view it.” i Python said.

After confirming, Heidan said: “Very well, I want to take a break and watch a movie. Please play a movie related to comets as a temporary end to this investigation mission.”

“I highly recommend the sci-fi thriller movie ‘The Night the Comet Came’. After you finish watching it, I will play ‘That Night, We Talked About Crosstalk’ to help you calm down.”


This article was created by Su Yihao with the assistance of ChatGPT. The article is released under the “Creative Use CC Namemark-Non-Commercial-No Changes to 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) International Version License Terms”, and the relevant code is licensed by MIT Terms released. If you like this creation, welcome to bookmark its Writing NFT.

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