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yesterday November tomorrow
Friday21 November 20036:26pm MST2003-11-22 UTC 0126
Today's news about Asteroids, Comets & Meteors
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California event

News outlets are reporting a sky event yesterday evening in California but aren't giving a time. It may or may not be related to the event reported below, seen over New Mexico and Arizona at around 5:45pm MST, 4:45pm California time. See reports today at KNTV-TV, "Scientists Speculate About Bright Blue Flash In Sky," San Franicisco Chronicle, "Strange lights in the night sky make for wide eyes," and San Mateo County Times, "Meteors prompt panic calls." These reports seem to confuse two separate phenomena — a possible meteor and unusual aurora activity.

Meteor news

New Mexico event:  There is still little information about what happened early last evening over New Mexico (see A/CC's first report), including the time and direction and the geographic extent over which a bright light and lingering trail were observed. See reports today at Albuquerque TV stations KOAT, "What's In The Sky? A Glow Worm," and KRQE, "It's A Bird, It's a Plane, It Was Probably A Meteor" (with a video frame of a wind-blown trail). KOAT-TV has said on-air that the display was also seen from Arizona and California. Additionally, there were reports from Rio Rancho, just northwest of Albuquerque, of a loud impact at about the same time.

Update:  Sandia National Lab's all-sky camera caught the New Mexico event and several other meteors last night, according to KOAT-TV.

Leonids:  Visual observers' feelings about this year's Leonids can be seen in headlines such as Francis Reddy's Leo-nots? update and's "Leonid Meteor Shower Disappoints in 2003" article from yesterday. But radio observing results have been more interesting and are ongoing. The Radio Meteor Observation Leonid 2003 page shows activity into early today UT and reports, "In the evening on 20th(UT), there were many long echoes in Japan." Low-level Leonid activity is predicted through the 23rd, so it is too soon to put a wrap on this story.

New-found objects

The Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) in Arizona yesterday morning discovered 2003 WR21, a potentially-hazardous object (PHO) announced today in MPEC 2003-W31 and estimated from its brightness to be roughly 410 meters/yards wide.

Yesterday's MPEC 2003-W27 announced a considerably larger near-Earth object, on the order of 4.52 km. (2.81 miles) wide, that thankfully doesn't fall into the PHO category. 2003 WB8's discovery is credited to LINEAR from early Tuesday, but it has been linked to observations going back to observations from Mt. Palomar on 31 March 1987 and four positions reported by CSS from 16 April 1999, as well observations this year September 25th forward from NEAT's Palomar and Haleakala telescopes, from LONEOS, and from LINEAR itself.

Small objects

In today's small object news, two were discovered yesterday morning with size estimates roughly put at 115 to 120 meters/yards wide. LINEAR in New Mexico found 2003 WU21 (MPEC 2003-W32, H=22.3) and the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) in Arizona found 2003 WQ21 (2003-W30, H=22.4).

JPL's Close Approach page is showing that 2003 WU21 will come closest next Wednesday at 29.2 lunar distances (LD), while 2003 WQ21 flew past at 56.9 LD last Thursday.

Today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC reports observation of recently discovered 2003 WE by Bedoin Observatory in France Wednesday night, yesterday morning by Desert Moon Observatory in New Mexico and Tenagra II Observatory in Arizona, and last night by KLENOT in the Czech Republic.

Risk monitoring 21 Nov.

The Friday Daily Orbit Update MPEC has observations of 2003 WG from six observatories, beginning with Bedoin in France Wednesday night, then Thursday morning from LINEAR and Desert Moon in New Mexico and Powell in Kansas. Last night WG was caught by Begues Observatory in Spain and KLENOT in the Czech Republic. Today NEODyS is down to just one impact solution, in the year 2055, but raised its risk rating for this object, now coming into agreement with JPL's 2003 WG risk assessment. That assessment itself rose slightly today while the solution count was cut from from five to three, with two beyond the NEODyS 2080 time horizon.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0130 UTC, 22 Nov




 2003 WG NEODyS 11/212055-20551-2.35-2.3502.631
JPL 11/212055-20983-2.35-2.3602.631
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.

For those new to the process of detecting impact hazards, there is nothing alarming in today's "Risk monitoring" report. It is all normal activity in the night-and-day cycle of observation and analysis that identifies and usually soon removes risk possibilities. An "impact solution" (also known as a "virtual impactor," or VI) is not a prediction but rather a zone of possibility that hasn't been eliminated yet. To learn more about risk monitoring, see "Understanding Risk Pages" by Jon Giorgini of JPL, and many other links related to this subject.
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