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Friday14 November 20038:37pm MST2003-11-15 UTC 0337
Today's news Page status: done, one correction 17 Nov.
  • 'DjIB1i' revealed – announcing unusual object 2003 UY283
  • Colorado event – one or more fireballs reported last night (corrected)
  • PHO news – 2000 AB246, 2003 HA, 2003 RM10 & 2003 UO12
  • News briefs – hazard estimate & meteor, comet & mission news + miner objects
  • Risk monitoring – all's quiet since Wednesday
Colorado event

Chris Peterson's Cloudbait Observatory Colorado Fireballs site has posted a November 13, 2003 Fireball page that reports one bright meteor "at about 8:41 PM" [later changed to 7:41] last night and possibly "a cluster of at least three fireballs over several hours." KMGH-TV Denver has a brief report today, "See Green Ball In Skies Last Night?"

For more meteor news today, see below.

'DjIB1i' revealed

If you have been watching the Minor Planet Center's NEO Confirmation Page (NEOCP) and wondering what 'DjIB1i' was all about, MPEC 2003-V58 has the answer today. The object with this Spacewatch-assigned designation had been on the NEOCP since November 2nd and, during the time of the full Moon, it was for many days the only object on the NEOCP. The Moon interfered with observations after November 5th until Jim Young picked it up this morning at Table Mountain Observatory.

Now, with official designation 2003 UY283, this is shown to be an unusual distant and thus slow moving object. It was discovered with the Spacewatch 1.8m telescope in Arizona on October 18th. The preliminary orbit calculation has it traveling a very eccentric (e=0.8956) and somewhat inclined (18.9°) path that comes in from 63.67 AU to closer to the Sun (q=3.506 AU) than Jupiter. From its brightness, UY283 is estimated to be on the order of 3 km. (1.9 miles) wide.

Update: The Minor Planet Center has posted 2003 UY283 to the Other Unusual Objects page rather than to its Centaurs list, and Brian Skiff at Lowell Observatory has added it to his Damacloid list.

SDSS 2.5m telescope
at Apache Pt. Obs.
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey 2.5m Telescope at Apache Point Observatory. Image courtesy of SDSS. "The box-like structure protects the separately mounted telescope from being buffeted by the wind."

PHO news

The European Spaceguard Central Node (SCN) has retired its observing campaign for 2003 UO12, which it predicts will go out of view for most observers after today.

Correction:  A/CC's first report was that, "The Friday Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU) reports the recovery of 2000 AB6 with pairs of observations from David Tholen's team at Mauna Kea from July 30th and October 26th." The observations were in fact for 2000 AB246. Designations in DOUs are "packed," with K00A06B for 2000 AB6 vs. K00AO6B for 2000 AB246, where the third-from-last character isn't zero, but "oh" for 24. Thanks to Reiner Stoss for catching this reporting error.

2000 AB246 is a kilometer-size (0.67 mile) near-Earth object (NEO) that, unlike AB6, is not potentially hazardous to Earth. It was discovered on 8 January 2000 by Tholen's team, which recovered it on February 16th last year and picked it up again on July 9th this year.

Today's DOU also carries prediscovery observations of 2003 HA [link|alt] and precovery observations of 2003 RM10.

2003 HA, which is estimated to be about a mile wide (1.5 km.), was briefly listed with impact solutions after its discovery by LINEAR on 21 April 2003. Today's DOU has a pair of positions reported for 2003 HA from 10 March 2003 from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) 2.5m Telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. 2003 HA, by the way, wasn't reported seen after July 20th until it was picked up again by Desert Moon Observatory in New Mexico on the 2nd and 3rd of this month.

2003 RM10 imagery from Begues Observatory. Frames from 14 September 2003 were stacked on RM10's motion, thus the background stars appear as streaks while RM10 is the point of light at center. 2003 RM10 by Begues Obs. 14 Sept. 2003

2003 RM10 is roughly estimated at only 300 meters/yards wide. After discovery at LONEOS in Arizona on 13 September 2003, it was listed with impact solutions for a couple of weeks. Since then Jornada Observatory in New Mexico has kept an eye on it with positions reported October 13th and 27th. Today's DOU reports three positions that were found for 2003 RM10 in LONEOS images from 20 September 1998.

News briefs

Hazard estimation:  Nature Science Update has a report today, "Earth's asteroid risk reduced," based on an article in Icarus by Marco Delbo, Alan Harris, Richard Binzel, Petr Pravec, and John Davies. The "team used infrared detectors on the powerful Keck telescope at Mauna Kea in Hawaii to calculate the warmth of 20 NEAs" to better judge their reflectiveness and thus size. They extrapolated their results to "2,200 known NEAs" and concluded that "around 1,090 are more than a kilometre across," rather than the 1,200 to 1,300 previously estimated. So the "reduced risk" is not in frequency but, rather, in terms of impact size and resulting damage.

Update:  The scientific preprint, "Keck Observations of Near-Earth Asteroids in the Thermal Infrared," is available from author John Davies as a 301Kb PDF file.

Comet news: has an article today, "Astronomers Ready for Comet Encke's Return." It includes a finder chart and says that Monday the 17th will present the "best viewing opportunity in more than six decades," when 2P/Encke [link|alt] passes closest to Earth at about 0.26 AU on its way to perihelion December 29th. Although "not expected to be visible to the unaided eye, it will be an interesting target through binoculars and small telescopes, for those experienced enough to find it."

Meteor news:  The Cambridge Conference Correspondence digest dated yesterday has a message from Jeremie Vaubaillon about 2003 Leonid predictions (see A/CC's report yesterday), which leads to a very interesting page of his and Francois Colas' — 2003 Leonid Forecasting.

Checking out some of the links from that page led to the Radio Meteor Observing Bulletin (RMOB), where it is noted that eventually "there should be sufficient observing stations to cover the whole globe, allowing to detect [meteor] stream outbursts which may remain unnoticed visually." And you can see results from some of this observing at the Radio Meteor Observatory's On Line page.

Mission news:  The Stardust mission posted today its first Status Report in almost a month. It tells about last week initiating the routine taking of "approach optical navigation images," with early images mainly to test all aspects of commanding the encounter with comet 81P/Wild 2 [link|alt] on January 2nd.

Miner objects:  An article at today, "Extraterrestrial Resources: 'Living off the Land,'" tells about the Space Resources Roundtable (SRR) meeting held 28-30 October at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. Besides various presentations on Mars and Moon development, there was also one about extending to asteroids a concept called "telepossession" — a "legal model [that] has been applied to maritime salvage of a shipwreck using underwater telerobots."
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