Saturday13 March 20043:58pm MST2004-03-13 UTC 2258 back top next  

The Asteroid/Comet Connection's
daily news journal about
asteroids, comets, and meteors


Today's issue status: done
ThursdayMarchtomorrowIndex
  • News briefs – most distant solar system object, Rosetta + occultation news, Hubble controversy & observatory drama

Cover: One year ago, Olivier Hainaut et al. used three of the 8.2m Very Large Telescopes at Cerro Paranal for three nights, 6-8 March, to image 1P/Halley [link|alt] by making 81 exposures of about nine hours combined, accumulating some 20,000 photons reflected from the inactive comet, which was (and is today still) outward bound from its 1986 perihelion, traveling in a retrograde orbit (i=162.3°) shown in the EasySky screen shot. Image ©Copyright European Southern Observatory, see 1 September 2003 news release for more about this, the furthest (27.26 AU) and faintest (magnitude 28.2) comet image ever. North is up and east is left, and the big streaks are stars.

News briefs – part 1/1 Major News for 13 March 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Monday announcement:  NASA posted a heads-up to editors and reporters yesterday:

The discovery of a mysterious object in our solar system is the topic of a listen-and-log-on news briefing on Monday, March 15, at 1 p.m. EST [1800 UTC]. Dr. Michael Brown, associate professor of planetary astronomy, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. will present his discovery of the most distant object ever detected orbiting the sun. 

This may be the "as yet unannounced" Hubble Space Telescope discovery by Brown mentioned in an ABC News story that A/CC noted on February 4th.

Rosetta/occultation news:  First noticed at Cosmic Mirror is that Denis Denissenko has posted occultation predictions for 2867 Steins, one of two Main Belt asteroids announced Thursday for visits by the Rosetta mission. The first prediction is only a month away, on April 9th, spanning a region devoid of occultation observers, but an event in August of next year will track across eastern Canada. And the third crosses Europe in 2007, about 19 months before the flyby.

Denissenko also has a page of predictions for "large and double Transneptunian objects," and a link to a 43Kb PDF preprint article on this subject.

Hubble controversy:  The current state of the issue over servicing the Hubble Space Telescope was described at Sky & Telescope yesterday, "Gloves Come Off in Fight to Save Hubble," and at Space.com Thursday and yesterday. NASA headquarters has posted a 100Kb PDF white paper on the subject, and linked to Admiral Harold Gehman's comments, a PDF, on Senator Barbara Mikulski's Web site. Gehman, who heads the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, responded to a request for his advice by saying that "a deep and rich study of the entire gain/risk equation" should be made.

Observatory drama:  Mt. Palomar had its first wildfire alert Tuesday ("Readings"), and yesterday the observatory was closed with a SWAT situation, as the North County Times told last night.

"I hope it ends soon," said Scott Kardel, the observatory's spokesman, as law enforcement officers crawled on top of the white, domed building to scan the area below. 
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