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Sunday9 November 20033:13pm MST2003-11-09 UTC 2213
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Distant object & SkyMorph news

EKBO precoveries
The Minor Planet Center yesterday issued MPECs announcing additional observations for Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt objects 2002 WC19 (a Plutino in resonance with Neptune, see MPEC 2003-V38) and 2003 FY128 (MPEC 2003-V39). These are big objects, roughly on the order of 375 to 400 km. (230-245 miles) wide based on their brightness. The MPECs report precovery observations for both, found by Reiner Stoss in the 2001 and 2002 image archives from NEAT's Mt. Palomar telescope. And there are also new observations reported for 2002 WC19 from Wolf Bickel with the Bergisch Gladbach Observatory 0.6m telescope on 28 October and 5-6 November.

An unhappy side note to this story is that NASA/JPL's NEAT program stopped putting images into NASA/Goddard's SkyMorph archive after last December. The Minor Planet Mailing List (MPML) was told in March by Andrea Pelloni, one of the intrepid amateurs who has found important archived observations, that "missing funding" is preventing "insertion in SkyMorph of the thousands of images that every month are obtained by NEAT telescopes" (Mt. Palomar and Haleakala).

A star is found   Some prominent astronomers have said that they won't be surprised if an object the size of Pluto or larger is yet to be found in our Solar System, and some think the Sun could have a dim stellar companion — either way, something so distant, and so dim and slow moving, that it just hasn't been noticed yet. So it was with some excitement that Reiner Stoss spotted a "very very slow moving object" with magnitude 17 while doing the precovery search on 2002 WC19 and 2003 FY128.

First he had to eliminate the possibility of the object being a relatively fast moving star. He didn't find it in a catalog of nearby stars, but, after some discussion about it on the MPML, he discovered via the VizieR Catalogue Service that his object was the already known LHS 2421.

Last May 20th, A/CC reported about the same NEAT archives used by asteroid/comet hunters put to use also to discover the third closest known star or star system. A search for more about LHS 2421, aka Luyten 2421, doesn't reveal details such as its type or distance, but it was one of thousands discovered in the remarkable career of Willem Jacob Luyten (1899-1994), and was compiled into his Luyten Half-Second Catalogue (Revised LHS).

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2211 UTC, 9 Nov




 2003 UX34JPL 11/32040-20401-4.76-4.7607.080
 2003 UO12NEODyS 11/4R E M O V E D
JPL 11/42067-20671-7.92-7.92013.624
VI = count of "virtual impactors" (impact solutions)
See A/CC's Consolidated Risk Tables for more and maybe
  newer details, and check the monitors' links for latest info.
Risk monitoring 9 Nov.

There have been two Daily Orbit Update MPECs (DOUs) today. The first carries observations of 2003 UO12 from the 2.5m Isaac Newton Telescope on La Palma in the Canary Islands from Friday night. At last check, JPL had not yet updated its assessment on this small object.

Neither DOU carries new observations of 2003 UX34, which was last reported seen a week ago today.

Today's first DOU catches up on observations of 2003 VF1, which was posted by NEODyS two days ago, and was removed yesterday based on new observations from Friday night from Linz Observatory in Austria. The DOU also has observations from Thursday night from Essen Observatory in Germany, and from Friday morning from Powell Observatory in Kansas. And 2003 VF1 was caught yesterday by Bill Ryan with the 1.8m Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) on Mt. Graham in Arizona, with four positions reported from 5:29 to 5:45am local time.
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