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yesterday November tomorrow
Tuesday18 November 20036:35pm MST2003-11-19 UTC 0135
Today's news about Asteroids, Comets & Meteors
Page status: done, updated, revised & twice added to
New 2003 VS2 precovery
2003 VS2 found by Reiner Stoss
in a DSS scan of a 6 Oct. 1991
Mt. Palomar 1.2m Oschin plate 2003 VS2 (arrow) as found by Reiner Stoss in a Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) scan of a 6 October 1991 Second Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS II) plate made with the same Mt. Palomar 1.2m Oschin telescope from which VS2 was discovered last Friday. He says, the plate scan's limiting stellar magnitude is expected at V 22.6 thus the TNO which was predicted at V 19.4 is at quite high SNR [signal-to-noise ratio] and easily visible as a 3.85" long trail in RA and 1.0" in declination. The plate had a 75-minute exposure and was scanned at 1.0"/pixel. North is up and east is left. The galaxy seen at upper left is IC 1727. POSS II scans are © copyright California Institute of Technology.
      This plate was made, Reiner Stoss notes, the year before the discovery of the first known EKBO, 15760 1992 QB1 [link|alt].

Reiner Stoss yesterday reported to the Minor Planet Center (MPC) precovery observations of 2003 VS2 that he had located in Digitized Sky Survey Palomar plate scans from 17 September, 6 and 10 October, and 7 December 1991, and from 15 September 1993. This extends VS2's observing arc back by a bit more than seven years from what was reported in the discovery MPEC (see A/CC's Sunday report).

Searching the archives can bring some nice visual surprises. In this case, there were multiple galaxies in the larger image from 6 October 1991. A portion of that image, shown at right, includes one galaxy that is interacting with another out of view to the upper left, some 20 million light years away.

Postscript:  A/CC subsequently learned that Andrew Lowe and Rob Matson independently also reported similar 2003 VS2 precovery results at about the same time as Reiner Stoss.

More 2003 VS2 news
NASA/JPL's Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program has posted its 2003 VS2 discovery image. To understand this screen shot better, see NEAT's revised image explanation. NEAT, by the way, puts this object's size at "700 (400)" km./miles wide, which would be bigger than all but one Main Belt asteroid. As for comparisons with other Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt objects (EKBOs, aka EKOs, KBOs, and TNOs), 2003 VS2 is well below the estimated sizes of the four largest listed on David Jewitt's 1000 km Scale KBOs page (not counting Pluto and its moon, Charon).

Colorado event

Chris Peterson has now posted a detailed report on the November 13th Colorado fireball event. He notes that it wasn't associated with the Leonid meteor shower, but the "location and time of this fireball was very similar to one seen last year on November 12" (see A/CC's report). None of the region's fireball cameras caught it, and weather conditions kept more people from seeing it over Colorado and New Mexico, where it may have finished its journey.

News briefs

TCO news:  MPEC 2003-W06 today announces the first new-found Tunguska-class object since the September/October run of space boulder discoveries through October 26th. This one, 2003 WE, was found yesterday morning by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. From its brightness, 2003 WE is a wee 35 meters/yards wide.

Naming controversy:  Along with topics such as a super model and a supermarket tarantula infestation, the Slovak Spectator's "Around Slovakia" for today has an asteroid controversy:

An asteroid named after the recently deceased Slovak cult comedian Julius Satinsky has sparked trouble between the astronomer who discovered the space body [Adrian Galad at Modra Observatory] and his bosses in the Institute of Astronomy at Bratislava's Comenius University. . .  Vladimir Porubcan said that his institute would like to have astronomers consult the names with their bosses. "We don't want to interfere, but we do want to consult — the dignified representation of Slovakia is in play here." 

Main Belt asteroid 15946 Satinsky (1998 AP7) was in the namings announced March 18th.

C/2003 W1 (LINEAR) from
La Canada Obs. 17 Nov. 2003 C/2003 W1 (LINEAR) as captured by La Canada Observatory last night during the confirmation process. It is viewed in negative to reveal better detail of the fuzzy comet at center. Background stars appear as black streaks.

Comet news:  MPC/CBAT is showing that an asteroidal object, with an eccentric orbit that lies mostly within the asteroid Main Belt, has been redesignated as comet P/2002 LZ11 (LINEAR).

At right is comet 2003 W1 (LINEAR) imagery by Juan Lacruz, whose observations from last night appeared in yesterday's discovery MPEC.

DSN lecture:  JPL has an item from yesterday announcing a free public lecture on 20 and 21 November in Pasadena, Calif. by Deep Space Mission System Program Manager Peter Doms on "The Deep Space Network challenge for 2003-2004: Tracking Dozens of Mission-Critical Spacecraft Events." Both talks will be webcast live and also will be made available afterward. The time both days is 7pm Pacific Standard Time (0300 UT).

Risk monitoring Nov. 12th 18 Nov. tomorrow

Late Tuesday afternoon in Pasadena, JPL added 2003 WG to its Current Impact Risks page, not long after this object was announced in MPEC 2003-W16. This is the only object under recent observation to be listed with impact solutions since the 12th. It was discovered this morning by Bruce Koehn at LONEOS in Arizona, who followed it for 43 minutes, and was picked up two and half hours later by Jim Young at JPL's Table Mountain Observatory in southern California. Then, as reported in the MPEC, it was followed by Zimmerwald and Sormano observatories tonight in Europe.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0058 UTC, 19 Nov




 2003 WGJPL 11/192051-209816-3.29-3.8400.687
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.

The first calculation has a very eccentric (e=0.779) and somewhat inclined (i=27.1°) orbit. From its brightness, 2003 WG is estimated by standard formula to be on the order of 475 meters/yards wide.
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