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Monday29 December 20036:07pm MST2003-12-30 UTC 0107
Today's news about Asteroids, Comets & Meteors
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A catch before lunch

A/CC Major News reported yesterday that among those confirming the small asteroid 2003 YH111 was New Mexico Skies Observatory. It was expected the circumstances could be a little complicated, since observers there might be guests using a telescope they brought with them to Mike and Lynn Rice's mountain lodge, or using a rental telescope, or might be someone anywhere using one of the facility's remote-controlled telescopes. A/CC inquired and it turned out that N.M. Skies now also hosts the physical part of Rent-a-scope, a business run from southern California by Arnie Rosner. The 2003 YH111 observer was Robert Hutsebaut, an amateur using a rented 0.3m telescope via the Web. He tells A/CC that, since it isn't possible for him to observe asteroids from his home in Brussels, Belgium, "I decided finally that remote observing was the best way to do serious work." This effort cost a rental fee but not sleep, as it was almost time for lunch in Brussels when his observations were made, just before 3:30am New Mexico time.

2003 YH111 imaged 29 Dec. 2003
by Robert Husebaut remotely
from New Mexico Skies Observatory
An image from this morning by Robert Hutsebaut using a Rent-a-scope 0.3m telescope at New Mexico Skies Observatory. 2003 YH111 is seen as a faint trail, moving during the exposure.

News briefs

Stardust:  The German company von Hoerner & Sulger (vH&S) issued a news release today, "CIDA: German Dust Analyzer Closes In On Comet," with a load of information about its contribution to this coming Friday's Stardust comet flyby. Articles telling about this event were posted today at the Baltimore Sun, "Scientists trying to catch a comet," Britain's The Guardian, "Stardust harvest of comet nears," and Australia's The Age, "Probe to get Wild on dust." This last reported especially on the crucial role of the NASA Deep Space Network Tidbinbilla station near Canberra:

Five minutes before its closest approach, Stardust will break contact with Earth as it swings to face the comet. Ten minutes later it will turn again, hopefully calling Tidbinbilla to report in. "It all comes down to 10 minutes and it all comes down to us," said Tidbinbilla's Glen Nagle. During those minutes Stardust could be pounded by a hypersonic cosmic storm of comet debris. 

The Baltimore Sun also has a nice preview today of the year ahead for sky gazing.

New-found:  MPEC 2003-Y88 today announced a near-Earth object on the order of 2.85 km. (1.77 miles) wide, 2003 YQ177, found December 26th by NEAT in Pasadena, Calif. with an Air Force 1.2m telescope in Hawaii. Also announced today are three objects discovered yesterday by LINEAR in Lexington, Mass. with an Air Force 1.0m telescope at White Sands in New Mexico. 2003 YG118 (MPEC 2003-Y91) is a potentially hazardous object (PHO) estimated at almost a mile wide (1.57 km.) that was also found in LONEOS (Flagstaff, Arizona) and LINEAR images from the 17th. 2003 YK118 (2003-Y92) is a smaller PHO at perhaps 650 meters/yards wide. And much smaller is 2003 YR117 (2003-Y89), roughly estimated at 75 meters/yards wide.

PHO recovery:  An object found by LINEAR yesterday morning, put on the NEO Confirmation Page and followed up by Sabino Canyon Observatory this morning, was announced today in MPEC 2003-Y87 as the recovery of an old LINEAR discovery, 1998 KJ9. This is a potentially hazardous object on the order of 450 meters/yards wide that hasn't been reported seen since June 1998, according to the NEODyS tally.


Risk monitoring 29 Dec.

Once again it is interesting and educational to see how quickly a newly discovered object can go from looking ominous to being of no immediate concern. 2003 YT1 was put at Torino Scale 1 by NEODyS and JPL on the 27th, and today both removed all their impact solutions for this object following new observations in the Monday Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU) reported from LINEAR from yesterday morning in New Mexico, from Great Shefford Observatory last night in England, and from Jornada Observatory early today in New Mexico, adding 2.280 days to the previous 8.721-day observing arc. The Minor Planet Center Last Observation page is showing that Siding Spring Observatory in Australia also has reported 2003 YT1 from today.

The only other object listed with impact solutions that is in today's DOU is 2003 YD45, with two positions from Great Shefford Observatory last night. Today both risk monitors slightly lowered their risk ratings for one remaining impact solution.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0058 UTC, 30 Dec




 2003 YT1JPL 12/29R E M O V E D
NEODyS 12/29R E M O V E D
 2003 YS70 NEODyS 12/282057-20808-7.72-8.1504.992
JPL 12/282057-20856-7.97-8.3704.992
 2003 YG118JPL 12/302033-207512-2.04-2.46012.089
 2003 YE45 NEODyS 12/272014-207938-2.13-2.7204.310
JPL 12/272014-2101111-1.64-2.2004.310
 2003 YD45 NEODyS 12/292074-20741-4.13-4.1308.764
JPL 12/292074-20741-4.02-4.0208.764
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.
Note that only objects recently in view are shown here.

The Last Observation page shows that Sandlot Observatory in Kansas caught 2003 YE45 this morning.

0107 UTC update:  JPL has posted 2003 YG118. See "New-found" in "News briefs" above for more info about this object.


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