The CARA Project

Hale BoppThe CARA Project was born after several years of study and tests around the photometry of comets with amateur astronomers equipments performed about since 1995 by the italian Comet Section (Unione Astrofili Italiani). The collaboration around this topic was extended to people not only joining to the Comet Section, forming a small group named GOC (Group of Cometary Observers) by Rolando Ligustri. This early group provided the first background on CCD imaging and photometry.

The starting point were our visual and photographic experience and the guidelines provided by The International Comet Quarterly and the precious experienced on CCD cometary  photometry in V band made by Herman Mikuz at the Crni Vrh Observatory []. We were looking for an observing technique that could find a reasonable compromise between complexity and scientific results, to be affordable to amateur astronomers and producing results useful for professional ones.
An intermediate step concerned the use of magnitude based on standard photometric windows defined in km at the comet, and various tests with VRI filters  (Giovanni Sostero, Giannantonio Milani).

After several trials and experiments we eventually approached to the Afrho quantity that was what just we were looking for.  First calculations were performed by means of a simple executable DOS code, developed in Qbasic while aperture photometry was performed by means of the MSB Astroart software. After Roberto Trabatti joined to our team a more advanced software, named Winafrho, was developed and several improvements were made in the years. Winafrho allows to perform aperture photometry on FITS  format images in a high standardized procedure. In the meantime a web site and a data archive was developed by Carlo Vinante.

The CARA project was supported by some professional astronomers during it’s development. In particular Marco Fulle (INAF Trieste Observatory), who assisted us from the beginning, Gian Paolo Tozzi (INAF Arcetri Observatory), Gyula Szabo’ (Dept. Physics, Szeged University),  Mauro Barbieri (LAM France). Later we were also encouraged by Laurent Jorda, Michael A’Hearn at the IWCA held in Paris in 2004 (see below).  
The CARA project started officially in 2003, after a meeting held in Rjieka (Croatia). It was then introduced at the MACE (Canary Islands, 2003) by Gyula Szabo’, and at the IWCA- Paris in 2004 by Giannantonio Milani and Giovanni Sostero.  In Italy it was introduced at the Congress of the Unione Astrofili Italiani in  2003 too.

Several meetings, at the beginning of the Italian Comet Section only, and also of the CARA project and Comet Section later, were organized since 1996:

1996  Sezione Comete - Istituto di Patologia Generale – Università di Padova  - Italy
1997  Sezione Comete - Frasso Sabino (Rieti) - Italy
1999  Sezione Comete  - Planetario – Padova - Italy
2001  May 26-27 - Sezione Comete  - Osservatorio di Cavezzo (Modena)  - Italy
2002  April 13-14  Sezione Comete  - Osservatorio di Armenzano (Assisi) Italy
2003  March 10 CARA -10 - Observatory of Rijeka  - Croatia
2003  CARA –Sezione Comete - giugno  - Osservatorio di Cavezzo (Modena)  - Italy
2004  March 7 -CARA – Sezione Comete  - Osservatorio di Arcetri, Firenze - Italy
2004  March 28 - CARA – Sezione Comete Osservatorio di Remanzacco, Udine - Italy
2004  June 20 - CARA -  Crni Vrh Observatory – Slovenia (international meeting)
2005  May 21 –22  - CARA – Sezione Comete - Osservatorio di Arcetri, Firenze - Italy
2005  November 13 - CARA –Sezione Comete - Sossano, Vicenza Italy
2006  June 10 CARA –Sezione Comete  - Osservatorio di Cavezzo (Modena)  - Italy
2007  June 9-10 - CARA –Sezione Comete  - Osservatorio di Arcetri, Firenze - Italy
2009  May 30-31 - CARA –Sezione Comete  -  Piano di Sorrento – Napoli - Italy
2010  May 21-22 - “Asteroidi, Comete, Meteore 2010” , joint meeting of the Asteroids,Comets  and Meteor Sections - Osservatorio di Arcetri, Firenze - Italy

Talks concerning the CARA project and results were routinely presented at the National Congresses of the Unione Astrofili Italiani.  
The CARA project partecipated to other national (Italian) and international meetings:

2002 GAD (Italy)
2004 GAD Gubbio  (Italy)
2005 GAD Cavezzo (Italy)
2005 Congresso UAI La Spezia (Italy)
2010 MACE Croatia

Arcetri meeting in 2007


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