Dean Capewell a stargazing schoolboy made quite an impact on a work experience placement when he discovered 16 new asteroids and a disintegrating comet.
Dean Capewell a stargazing schoolboy made quite an impact on a work experience placement when he discovered 16 new asteroids and a disintegrating comet. Capewell, 19, had been chosen to do a summer work Telescope project at the University of Cardiff when he made the remarkable finds.
The king James's College pupil single-handedly discovered a new asteroid, and together with astronomer Jason Williams and two of the world's leading comet and asteroid imagers, Giovanni Sostero and Ernesto Guido, discovered 20 others - not to mention the comet...
"I was not really expecting to be involved with the asteroids, never mind expecting to find new ones - and it was quite a rush, to tell the truth," said Dean Capewell, from Cardiff, who is hoping for a career in science. "It was an extremely exciting moment when we discovered the asteroids, and something to remember. I'm very proud of the fact that I was part of something like that, I had a lot of fun."
Dean Capewell was encouraged by his biology teacher to go on the funded placement as part of a programme by the Nuffield Foundation, working with the team in charge of the Cardiff Telescope project. This robotic telescope, based on the Hawaiian island of Maui and in Australia, is operated remotely from computers, and Capewell shared his remarkable discoveries with the rest of the team via Twitter.
"As soon as we saw the images, we knew something had kicked off in the comet's tail," said Mr Williams. "We were frantically communicating with each other over Twitter, e-mail and Facebook, just staggered with the huge fragment we were seeing drifting back along the comet's tail."
The university said that it was "highly unusual" for an amateur to discover such phenomena on their own, and "even more remarkable" for a schoolboy.