Erika DeBenedictis is a remarkable high school junior from Albuquerque, New Mexico. As a result of winning high honors at a recent science fair, an asteroid was named after her, number 23131 Debenedictis. To generate an ephemeris of this asteroid, click here and fill in the number of the asteroid and over what dates/times you want to know where it is. The asteroid is in the main asteroid belt and orbits the Sun every 3.339 years.

Erika was one of the very top students at the Summer Science Program at Socorro, New Mexico, in the summer of 2008. (I was the Academic Director of the program at New Mexico Tech.) On the evening of 23/24 July 2008, she, Richard Yoon, and I took some images of her asteroid. At the time it had apparent magnitude 16.9. Below we see portions of four 180-second images taken with the 6-inch Takahashi refractor at Etscorn Observatory of New Mexico Tech. The CCD camera was an SBIG-10XME. We observed with no filter in order to maximize our detection limit. The field of view of these images is 11.7 by 9.1 arcminutes. North is up, east is to the left. The asteroid was in the direction of Sagitarrius, which accounts for the star-filled frames. The asteroid was undergoing retrograde motion. On this night it was moving 39.4 arcsec per hour to the west, and 2.5 arcsec per hour south. These four images were started at 03:39:36, 03:50:00, 04:00:38, and 04:09:21 UT. The asteroid moved 29 pixels to the right (33 arcsec) over the course of these exposures.

Later on the night of 23/24 July 2008 more images were taken. Below is the sharpest image of a trio of 90 second mages taken after 2 AM. The start Universal Time was 08:30:38.

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