Monday5 January 20044:41am MST 6 Jan.2004-01-06 UTC 1141 back top next  



81P/Wild 2 at just before 0600 UT today in a stack of five frames, imaged by Reiner Stoss by remote control from Germany with an Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca (OAM) 0.3m telescope, seen at left by webcam at sunrise. More Stardust mission images of this comet were to have been released to the public this day but weren't.


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Cover story – part 1/1 Major News for 5 Jan. 2004 back top next  

Cover story by Reiner Stoss

Editor's note:  The author not only caught a comet but also captured the moment from his home in Germany as he ended a night's observing via Internet with a telescope under his control at the Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca (OAM).

The Wild Thing crossed some stars and only the first five images were useful for astrometry. I stacked them to see how much coma would come out. The stars are quite large due to the non-optimal seeing at only 10° altitude and with the bright background from being at only 34° solar elongation. The dawn sky eats the fainter outer parts of the coma and tail.

An OAM remote-controled 0.3m telescope seen by webcam
81P/Wild 2's orbit

An EasySky screen shot shows where 81P/Wild 2 [link|alt] is today, and why the OAM 0.3m telescope had to be aimed toward the dawn sky to make the picture on today's "cover."

The webcam is the only visual contact I have all night with the two scopes, and there is a light I can turn on to see better. It is always a nice moment, after a successful night, to warm up the CCD and park the scope, which has performed well, and to enjoy the beautiful colors of the dawn. It would be much better in situ, but you can't fly 2,500 km. every day!

Spanish fireballs – part 1/1 Major News for 5 Jan. 2004 back top next  
Spanish fireballs

Spanish fireballs:  After last evening's spectacular fireball breakup over northern Spain, which A/CC reported overnight, El Mundo says today that authorities are looking for the largest piece in a 25-kilometer zone encircling Renedo de Valderaduey and Palencia in the north, and that other pieces are believed to have hit near Vall d' Uxo, Nules, and Cabanes on the Mediterranean coast, where there were also small fires. Expatica's report in English today, "Meteorite shower across Spain," tells that the Santiago de Compostela observatory director, Jose Angel Docobo, witnessed the event at 5:47 p.m. local time (1647 GMT), saying it came "down at about about a 30-degree angle over the horizon," and "was followed by an explosion to the east that occurred rather close to the ground."

The sighting held symbolic significance since it occurred on the eve of the Twelfth Night celebration of the Epiphany and at various points along the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, like Palencia, Leon and Compostela itself, known as the "field of stars."  

CNN has posted an image with its copy of the Reuters story today.

Thanks to Sebastian Hoenig for two links with videos and pictures at a3n.tv today: "Se buscan restos de meteorito en Leon y Palencia," and "El meteorito que se ha estrellado en Espana podria pesar 100 toneladas" [both pages were pulled January 6th].

Correction:  Marco Langbroek of the Dutch Meteor Society informs A/CC that The video shown in the second Spanish news media link ("El meteorito que se ha estrellado en Espana podria pesar 100 toneladas") is not of the January 4 fireball. It shows a sunlit aircraft contrail mistaken for a fireball filmed one day earlier. The other video does show the spectacular January 4 fireball.

Thanks to Pepe Manteca for links to Agencia EFE stories today reporting first that investigators were headed to Minglanilla in east central Spain to see if some small craters there were the result of the meteor fall, and then January 6th that no relationship was found.

News briefs – part 1/1 Major News for 5 Jan. 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Stardust:  The Stardust mission has said it will release additional images of 81P/Wild 2 [link|alt] today. Reportedly 72 were taken at the flyby and two have been released so far, on January 2nd.

University of Washington's The Daily has an article today, "On the tail of a comet."

The U.K. Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) today updated its running Stardust news release. The original text is archived at EurekAlert from January 3rd, "Close encounter of a cometary kind."

The NASA "Stardust Comet Flyby" press kit, a 148Kb PDF has an excellent overview of the mission and the spacecraft design.

Binary news:  The Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams has made public IAUC 8251 of December 5th which reports that the Deep Ecliptic Survey (DES), from observations made in late October and late November with the Kitt Peak 4m Mayall Telescope, has found the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt object 2003 UN284, a cubewano, to be binary.

Risk monitoring - part 1/1 Major News for 5 Jan. 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 5 Jan.

The Monday Daily Orbit Update MPEC has a set of observations of 2003 YH136 from Siding Spring Observatory from January 3rd in Australia, and today NEODyS and JPL slightly lowered their risk ratings for this object.


Late news:  JPL has posted 2004 AF (H=16.4). See MPEC 2004-A31 for more info.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0732 UTC, 6 Jan

Object

Assessment

Years

VI
PS
cum
PS
max
T
S
Arc 
days
 2004 AFJPL 1/62058-20581-4.50-4.5000.965
 2003 YS70 NEODyS 12/282057-20808-7.72-8.1504.992
JPL 12/282057-20856-7.97-8.3704.992
 2003 YH136 NEODyS 1/52031-20311-3.41-3.4107.328
JPL 1/52031-20502-3.49-3.5007.328
 2003 YD45JPL 1/32074-20741-6.33-6.33010.354
NEODyS 12/30R E M O V E D
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.
http://www.HohmannTransfer.com/mn/0401/05.htm
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