GRAS Subscriber, Ernie Halberg, Discovers Asteroid 2010 DC

A historical first for any student from South Africa

Fountain Valley, California 3/11/2010 08:49 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)

Ernie has been selected as leader of the South African student delegation that will attend the Africa Astronomy Festival that will be held there from December 15 to January 4, 2011. During the program Ernie will give lectures on deep space observation and technical aspects of asteroid identification where remote access telescopes are used.


Astronomy, Grand School Master.


One of Ernie’s teachers, Adrian Meyer, had this to say, "When I teach my students about Chemistry, I use Astronomy. When I teach my students about Mathematics, I use Astronomy.  When I teach my students about the Biology of being Human, I use Astronomy. If I had Astronomy as a subject at school, many years ago, my life would be very different."  


Meyer Continued, "When I met Ernie Halberg about 4 years ago, I could see the desire in his eyes: he wanted to know more about the stars and planets. His passion for Astronomy was very evident."


Then during the beginning of 2009, I offered him the opportunity to do a deep space observation research project. I set a challenge for him: find an asteroid!"


And he did. 2010 DC 2 is his. It has become Ernie’s Asteroid ...


Using the GRAS global remote telescope network Ernie homed in on his target. His choice instrument was GRAS004 located in New Mexico, USA.



GRAS also provides free no obligation demonstrations for those with an internet connection. Video tutorials are also available.


Observing a previously unsighted asteroid is nothing new. But, Ernie’s Asteroid is the first for a school student in Africa. Not the last, but the first.


2010 DC2 is big news here, and its discovery was announced on the national media here in South Africa. The printed media, radio. And more to come still.


Speaking with Ernie, it is clear that this project about Astronomy also taught Ernie things about himself. He has the commitment and perseverance to successfully complete such a demanding project.


It also showed him the way to his own future. He will not study to become a medical doctor any more. He decided that, working with software programs really is his first love. And that astronomy will always be a personal passion.


Astronomy indeed is the Grand School Master.


Ernie’s discovery has brought accolades from various walks of life.


Ms Minoo Rathnasabapathy, National Point of Contact (South Africa) for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) said: "Ernie’s achievement has highlighted Africa’s increasing capabilities in space. His achievement will no doubt inspire the youth in Africa to pursue their dreams of being part of the remarkable and fascinating advancements in space technology."


Dr Peter Martinez, prominent Astrophysicist and coordinator of the National Working Group on Space Science and Technology in South Africa, is of the opinion that by his achievement, Ernie, as young South African "will inspire other young South Africans to study science, mathematics and technology and to aspire to careers in these fields".


Mr Michael Poll, President of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa commented as follows: "I would like to add the congratulations of ASSA to Ernie Halberg on his highly commendable achievement". 


Mr Poll is of the opinion that yuong people should be encouraged to become involved in Astronomy: "The night sky is reasonably accessible to young people, and information on how to make observations is reasonably accessible. Exposure of young people to astronomy may encourage them to get more involved, and even to take up a career in science. Although there is an emphasis on Mathematics and Physics in astronomy, the study of, for example, Geology and even Biology could be part of an interest in the subject.  


Prof. MJH Hoffman, Department of Physics, and Boyden Observatory, University of the Free State [South Africa], interviewed Ernie on a regional radio programme "On Distant Journeys". During the interview he commented on the degree of difficulty of Ernie’s observations and complemented him on his achievement.


The Minister of Science and Technology in South Africa, Ms Naledi Pandor took formal notice of Ernie’s discovery and congratulated him on his achievement.


A special Space School Africa Certificate of Achievement will be handed to Ernie to recognize his discovery officially.


He has been nominated for the 2010 Top Emerging Scientist Award. This award is given by the Institute for the Development of Achievers and Leaders in Africa.  


He has also been nominated to present a lecture at the 2011 Astronomical Society Congress that will take place in Cape Town in October 2011.


Ernie’s discovery has been noted in the records of the Astronomical Society of South Africa [the database of South African comet and asteroid discoveries] –  update. They will place a news note in MNASSA

 Ernie has been invited to give a lecture at the Pretoria centre of ASSA

Ernie was invited to do a presentation at SCOPEC Telescope and Astronomy Expo    – 17 April

He was invited by Dr Peter Martinez to visit the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) - - at Sutherland.

Ernie was interviewed on the national Radio Service [Radio Sonder Grense   or Radio Without Borders] and Pretoria Radio  

Media reports were published in the national Afrikaans newspaper Beeld  -  - and the provincial newspaper Volksblad -


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