General Information

Purpose: This program ("FOV/ISPY") allows one to identify known comets or asteroids that are present (and may be visible) in an instrument field of view specified one of three different ways.

Operation: A table is returned listing the objects found, their predicted position and apparent magnitude, along with data on the uncertainties in the positional prediction. This information should help one to determine whether an observed object is previously known or may be newly discovered.

Dynamics: Tabular output is from a high-precision n-body numerical integration that includes the perturbations of the planets, Moon, Ceres, Pallas and Vesta. Comet propagations include non-gravitational models as well.

The database of initial conditions consulted by FOV/ISPY software is maintained by the Solar System Dynamics Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is updated hourly, as needed.

Other access methods: This program can also be accessed non-interactively by sending an e-mail of commands to the address "" with the subject "FOV". A commented example of a command file is available which explains the method.

Commentary: With 1000+ new asteroids being discovered each month, and orbits being refined significantly all the time, it can sometimes be worthwhile to "check again" in a few weeks. An unknown object from a previous search may have since been cataloged.

References: More information on any particular asteroid or comet appearing in your search results can be found from JPL's Horizons system, accessed by WWW (basic functions), or by telnet (telnet 6775) or e-mail, both of which offer much more functionality than the web interface. JPL orbit animations for a listed object are also available.

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