Sunday14 March 200411:58pm MST2004-03-15 UTC 0658 back top next  

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

Today's issue status: done

Cover: Peter Birtwhistle's imagery of last March's Earth-buzzing small object, 2003 DW10, from Great Shefford Observatory in England, comes from exposures made soon after John Roger's 2003 DW10 image on last Sunday's "cover." They are an interesting comparison of the two observational techniques — stacking multiple frames on an object's motion (here), and tracking on an object in motion.

Details: 2003 Mar 02 21:01:45-03:46 UT. Mag R=17.3. 0.0040 AU from Earth (1.5 lunar distance). 0.30m f/6.3 Schmidt-Cassegrain+CCD. 9x2s, binned 2x2, unfiltered. 14s gap between images, stacked for motion of 151 arcsec/min in PA 252°. Field 17x13 arcmin, N up. P Birtwhistle (J95).
Distant big object – part 1/1 Major News for 14 March 2004 back top next  
Distant big object

The Australian at around 1430 UTC today posted an article dated tomorrow telling that "NASA is expected to announce today" that "scientists have found a new world orbiting the solar system — more than 3 billion kilometres further away from the Sun than Pluto." The Times of India followed about half an hour later with a shorter article, and an Internet mailing list this morning has a message telling about finding a related and publicly available Hubble Space Telescope (HST) proposal. In fact, that proposal was mentioned in an HST Daily Report posted Friday by
Loads for SA075O02_F1 [include] the additional "Director's Discretionary Target" [for] "Characterization of a Planetary-sized Body in the Inner Oort Cloud."

The newspaper articles say this object has been named "Sedna" and is thought to be slightly smaller than Pluto. That would put it between Pluto and three Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt objects roughly half Pluto's diameter. See David Jewitt's 1000 km Scale KBOs.

The official NASA announcement will be made at 1800 UTC (1pm EST) tomorrow [see report].

Note:  When A/CC first posted these news links at 1742 UTC, this object was described as being a member of the "inner Oort Cloud," which would be a first-ever discovery. However, it is not yet clear that this is a proper description. The "inner" (non-spherical) Oort Cloud region has been defined as being made up of objects with orbits that average between 2,000 and 15,000 times the distance beween Earth and Sun. See Tumbling Stone for an Oort Cloud diagram.

Postscripts:  Three other Australian news sites picked up The Australian story around 2130 UTC on March 14th, and BBC has posted a report with a 0112 UTC time stamp on the 15th [changed]. Also see the Tenagra Observatories home page with this today:

The MPEC (list of observations announcing the discovery) shows that the Tenagra II 32" (0.81-m) telescope at station 926 (Tenagra in S. Arizona) is the second set of measurements of the object that will forever change our idea of the solar system. 

And more on the 15th UTC: Alan Boyle on MSNBC at 0100, SpaceDaily before 0230, and CNN at 0507.

Small objects – part 1/2 Major News for 14 March 2004 back top next  
Small objects

Follow-up during 8-14 March
During this week only four near-Earth asteroid discoveries were announced, and none of them were of the smallest variety of around or less than 135 meters/yards wide. 2004 BW18 and 2004 CE39 continued to be tracked, however, and observations were also reported for 2004 BV18 from January and 2003 UL from last October. And all the rest of the action was in archive work, as detailed in the table below.

The archive work was by the Hungarian team of Krisztian Sarneczky and Brigitta Sipocz at the Szeged University (SZTE) Asteroid program. He is a geography teacher and physics doctoral student, and she is a first-year physics student. They do guest NEO observing together and when clouded out they have been generating a flood of additional positions found in the NEAT SkyMorph archive for objects of all sizes. This past week that included five small objects listed below.

<< previous report | skip table | small object table >>

If an asteroid's orbit brings it to within 0.05 AU of Earth's orbit, it is categorized as "potentialy hazardous" unless it has an absolute magnitude H greater than 22.0, which corresponds to a diameter on the order of 135 meters/yards. Larger H is dimmer, thus smaller. And 0.05 astronomical units (AU) is about 19.5 times the distance between Earth and Moon (0.00256 AU).

Notes: Diameters in the following observation summary table are rough best estimates from a standard but very inexact H-to-size formula using H (absolute magnitude) from the JPL NEO Orbital Elements page, source also for Earth MOID (minimum orbital intersection). Other planetary MOIDs are from Lowell Observatory. Current Minor Planet Center H is also given, along with the original H from each object's discovery MPEC. Priorities and visibilities are from the European Spaceguard Central Node (SCN).

Small objects – part 2/2 (table) Major News for 14 March 2004 back top next  

Small object observation summary for 8-14 March

H = absolute magnitude (brightness), from which size is roughly estimated   —   m/yd = meters/yards   —   [cross index]
All objects had observations reported last week. Those on a light-blue background had observations from only before the week.

European Spaceguard Central Node
2004 BV18
26 m/yd25.5825.926.1 2004-B230.01192 AU
2004 BV18 was reported this last week as observed on 24 Jan. by Pulkovo Obs. The object has an MOID of 0.033 AU with Mars.
2002 PX39
78 m/yd23.1823.423.2 2002-P440.01210 AU
Sarneczky and Sipocz located 2002 PX39 in NEAT/Palomar images from 7 Aug. 2002, a day earlier than previously reported, thus adding 0.97 day to what had been a 27.04-day observing arc. This object has an MOID of 0.000 AU with Mars.
2002 RP137
84 m/yd23.0423.023.2 2002-R720.12591 AU
Sarneczky and Sipocz reported 2002 RP137 from NEAT/Palomar from 12 Sept. 2002, tacking 1.02 days onto the beginning of what had been a 137.65-day observing arc.
2002 RS129
85 m/yd23.0023.022.4 2002-R670.01677 AU
Sarneczky and Sipocz nearly doubled the observing arc of 2002 RS129 by finding it in NEAT/Palomar images from 26 Aug. 2002 — 16.90 days before its previous 17.75-day observing arc.
2002 KM3
116 m/yd22.3322.322.7 2002-K260.04732 AU
Sarneczky and Sipocz found 2002 KM3 in NEAT images from Haleakala from 15 May 2002 and Palomar from 18 May 2002, thus adding 3.76 days to what had been an 18.03-day observing arc beginning May 19th.
2003 UL9
123 m/yd22.2022.421.5 2003-U260.12758 AU
2003 UL9 was reported this last week as observed on 25 Oct. 2003 by David Tholen's team at Mauna Kea, adding 1.17 days to what had been a 4.95-day observing arc.
2004 BW18
124 m/yd22.1822.622.5 2004-B240.04478 AULow, visibility ends 30 May
2004 BW18 was reported this week as observed on 24 Jan. and 12 Feb. by Pulkovo Obs., and on 8 and 11 March by Siding Spring Obs.
1996 XB27
167 m/yd21.5422.322.5 1996-Y050.11411 AU
Sarneczky and Sipocz reported 1996 XB27 from NEAT/Haleakala images of 15 April 2001. It had been observed for 19 days in December 1996, and was watched for 38 days in early 2001. This new position added another 17 days.
2004 CE39
182 m/yd21.3521.522.4 2004-C600.07679 AUNecessary, visibility ends 22 March
2004 CE39 was observed on 7 March by Great Shefford Obs., on 8 March by Powell Obs., on 9 March by Tenagra II Obs., and on 10 March by Tenagra II, LINEAR, and Powell. It has an MOID of 0.014 AU with Venus.

  Small object observation cross index   [table top]
ObjectObserved by MPC code
1996 XB27608
2002 KM3608 & 644
2002 PX39644
2002 RP137644
2002 RS129644
2003 UL9568
2004 BV18084
2004 BW18084 & 413
2004 CE39649, 704, 926 & J95
CodeObservatoryObjects observed (days)
084Pulkovo Obs.2004 BV18 & 2004 BW18(2)
413Siding Spring Obs.2004 BW18(2)
568Mauna Kea2003 UL9
608NEAT/Haleakala1996 XB27 & 2002 KM3
644NEAT/Palomar2002 KM3, 2002 PX39, 2002 RP137 & 2002 RS129
649Powell Obs.2004 CE39(2)
704LINEAR2004 CE39
926Tenagra II Obs.2004 CE39(2)
J95Great Shefford Obs.2004 CE39
News briefs – part 1/1 Major News for 14 March 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Hubble controversy:  First noticed at NASA Watch is that the Hubble servicing issue will be reported in the U.S. on CBS television "60 Minutes." Update: See a transcript.

Risk monitoring:  If you don't follow A/CC Major News regularly, you may be looking at today's news and wondering, Where is the impact risk monitoring report? There are no objects with impact solutions under current observation. The most recent had its last impact solutions removed on March 6th.

Planetary defense:  First noticed at is this from the BBC Friday, "Government 'ignores' space threat."   [ top ]
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