Friday16 April 20047:47pm MDT2004-04-17 UTC 0147 back top next  

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


Today's issue status: done
yesterdayApriltomorrowIndex

Cover: From Australia's Gold Coast comes the year's second amateur-discovered NEO (and first PHO), 2004 GA1. John Broughton sent this discovery image from 1349 UT on April 11th. He says it "was found on the second night of scanning using a 20-inch robotic telescope that has been under construction for the last 18 months" at Reedy Creek Observatory, and notes that the camera was provided by a 2002 Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO Grant. See below about progress in monitoring this kilometer-size object.

SuperWASP inauguration – panel 1/1 Major News for 16 April 2004 back top next  
SuperWASP inauguration

The SuperWASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) project has a page dated today, "Offical inauguration of the SuperWASP facility" at La Palma in the Canary Islands. It tells that the first cameras, of a planned set of eight, on one mount with 200mm lenses and 16-bit 2028x2028 CCDs, will now begin to search large swaths of sky to find planetary transits of stars. Earlier information about this project had spoken of its potential for studying comets and near-Earth objects, something not mentioned in this week's news, so A/CC asked Alan Fitzsimmons about that. As a member of the team from the international consortium behind this project, he reports, "We will be doing asteroid and cometary studies with SuperWASP, but it won't come immediately; there's a bit more software development to do yet. However, we will be limited to objects brighter than 16th magnitude."

The project says that the observations, up to 60Gb per night, will be processed and "stored in a public database" at LEDAS at the University of Leicester.

SuperWASP cameras on one mount

Image courtesy of SuperWASP

Asked about that, Fitzsimmons responded, "This is over a year away. People will need to apply for access, but we envisage having a fairly open access policy."

Extrasolar minor objects:  A prototype WASP accomplishment was discovering the sodium tail of C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp), so it is a fun coincidence to read a University of Pennsylvania news release today about evidence from a sodium absorption line briefly observed in a "very young" star's spectrum that a 100-km. wide "comet-like" body had fallen into it.

News briefs – panel 1/1 Major News for 16 April 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Comet news:  The Minor Planet Center today issued MPEC 2004-H05, its first for comet C/2004 F4 (Bradfield), showing thirteen positions from the comet's slow entry into the LASCO C3 coronagraph instrument aboard SOHO. It puts perihelion at about 0040 UT tomorrow, which is 8:40pm EDT today, at 0.1717 AU from the Sun — 17% of the distance between Earth and Sun. That's only 67 times the distance between Earth and Moon, and well inside the orbit of Mercury, which gets no closer than 0.3075 AU from the Sun. See also A/CC reports about C/Bradfield yesterday and before, and Space.com's article today, "Three Chances to Spy Comets."

Note:  A/CC's first report was that the MPEC was "based completely on" the SOHO observations (15-16 April), but Maik Meyer points out that the orbital elements block states, "From observations 2004 Mar. 23-Apr. 16."

Risk monitoring - panel 1/1 Major News for 16 April 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 16 April

The Friday Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU) has observations from yesterday of 2003 GA1 from Junk Bond Observatory in Arizona and from GA1's discoverer, John Broughton at Reedy Creek Observatory in Queensland (see today's "cover" above). NEODyS posted this kilometer-size object today, and JPL very slightly lowered its overall risk ratings for it, now with fewer impact solutions and the earliest in 2026 rather than 2021.

The DOU carries observations of 2004 GU9 from Sandlot Observatory in Kansas and LINEAR in New Mexico yesterday morning, and from Jornada Observatory early today in New Mexico. Both NEODyS and JPL have now removed all impact solutions for this object. (It is a lesson in watching risk monitoring to note that JPL had 152 solutions yesterday with an observing arc of 0.953 days, and all have now been eliminated by adding just 1.038 days to the arc.)

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0103 UTC, 17 Apr

Object

Assessment

Years

VI
PS
cum
PS
max
T
S
Arc 
days
 2004 GU9JPL 4/16R E M O V E D
NEODyS 4/16R E M O V E D
 2004 GE2JPL 4/162094-21035-4.53-4.8102.643
 2004 GA1 NEODyS 4/162026-20805-2.71-2.8503.978
JPL 4/162026-209911-2.76-3.0203.978
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.

And the DOU reports positions for 2004 GE2 from the 14th from Mt. John Observatory in New Zealand and Buchloe Observatory in Germany. Today JPL very slightly lowered its overall risk ratings for this object.

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