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Friday12 December 20037:39pm MST2003-12-13 UTC 0239
Today's news about Asteroids, Comets & Meteors
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C/2003 W1 (LINEAR)

Juan Lacruz, who participated in the confirmation of comet C/2003 W1 (LINEAR) (see his imagery), tells A/CC that yesterday's MPEC 2003-X49 for this object "publishes an eccentricity of 0.934732. In previous MPECs [2003-W04 and 2003-W61] the orbit was assumed parabolic (e=1). This would mean the comet has a closed orbit with a period of about 127 years, quite uncommon for a comet with such an inclined path (i=78°)."

We asked Pasquale Tricarico about C/2003 W1's relationship with Jupiter, and he reports, from running the new orbit through his beta Linux software, ORSA (Orbit Reconstruction, Simulation and Analysis), that it can come within 0.181 AU of Jupiter. Although "cometary dynamics has not yet been deeply tested in ORSA," he finds that "the latest close encounter with Jupiter at less than one AU would have been in the year 1378, with big changes in orbital elements, and the next one will be in 2635."

2003 W1 orbit diagrams

C/2003 W1 (LINEAR)'s currently calculated path from EasySky screen shots. Two positions at upper right show where W1 was when discovered November 16th, seven days past perihelion, and where it is today (moving to the right).


News briefs

Contributor news:  Pasquale Tricarico, who contributed to the previous news item, also created one of the most interesting illustrations yet to appear in A/CC's pages, the animation published December 6th showing 2003 XJ7's plunge through the Earth-Moon system. He initially responded to a message about XJ7's surprise appearance with, "I've made a preliminary analysis of this object, but I'm quite busy this morning." So he went and presented his PhD thesis, "Dynamical Stability of Trojan Asteroids" (for all four major planets), then came back and created and sent the animation frames, before going out to celebrate. Next he heads from Padova University in Italy to Washington State University in the U.S. for a two-year post-doctoral position.

Meteor news:  The Indianapolis Star has an article today, "Burning rock likely came from Earth, scientist says":

Nelson Shaffer, a researcher at the Indiana Geological Survey [found] that the rock contains quartz, which has never been found on a meteorite. Plus, the rock isn't metallic and doesn't have the glassy coating usually found on meteorites. 

This was picked up by the Associated Press and appears in different versions today at WRTV Indianapolis and the Shelbyville News. See also A/CC's first report. has as item today, "Modest Geminid Meteor Shower this Weekend" (with a common misspelling for 3200 Phaethon). See more info.

A very loud boom was heard in northwestern New Mexico yesterday morning, not from seismic activity nor apparently military aircraft or mining. See an article today at the Farmington Daily Times.

News briefs, part 2

Readings:  National Geographic has an article from yesterday, "Will Discovery Help Repel Asteroids Headed for Earth?" telling about recent news about the Yarkovsky effect (see A/CC items November 5th and 7th).

The University of Maryland Diamondback has an article today, "Looking out for nature's weapons of mass destruction," interviewing signatory Lucy McFadden about last July's Open Letter to the U.S. Congress about NEO dangers. See a July 9th article for more about this.

Physics Today has an article, "The Growth of Astrophysical Understanding," by astronomer Martin Harwit. Described as "A stroll through three millennia of astronomical speculation and discovery," it is a remarkably broad but concise introduction to topics such as how orbital calculation first came to be learned for determining the paths of planets and comets.

Comet chemistry:  The journal Science edition dated today has an article for purchase, "Doubly Ionized Carbon Observed in the Plasma Tail of Comet Kudo-Fujikawa," by Matthew Povich et al. And New Scientist has a report about this today, "Carbon clue implies comets orbit other stars." It tells how the SOHO spacecraft was used to monitor the close perihelion passage of comet C/2002 X5 (Kudo-Fujikawa) [link|alt] and witnessed a tail disconnection event.

Carbon ions have been seen for the first time in a comet's tail. [Similar] charged particles have been measured in the light from a nearby star, Beta Pictoris, which is surrounded by a dusty disk. 

See A/CC's report about that passage, and another mentioning Beta Pictoris as a source for micrometeors in our own Solar System.

Risk monitoring 12 Dec.

Friday's Daily Orbit Update MPEC carries no observations of objects in recent view that have impact solutions.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0124 UTC, 13 Dec




 2003 XM NEODyS 12/82023-208021-4.28-4.8104.033
JPL 12/82029-210124-3.86-4.4804.033
 2003 WY153 NEODyS 12/72071-20711-7.36-7.3607.918
JPL 12/72071-20711-7.41-7.4107.918
 2003 WW26NEODyS 12/9R E M O V E D
JPL 12/92061-20611-7.64-7.64017.677
 2003 WT153 NEODyS 12/52043-208036-6.61-6.9902.501
JPL 12/52044-210340-6.75-7.4102.501
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.


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