The Asteroid/Comet Connection's daily news journal about asteroids, comets & meteors – 26-31 January 2005
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31 January 2005 - Monday
Risk monitoring: Today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC carries observations of 2004 MN4 from McCarthy Observatory in Connecticut this morning UT, from Jeffrey Sue with Rent-A-Scope at New Mexico Skies from the mornings of January 28th and 29th, and from Peschiera del Garda Observatory in Italy from the nights of 19 and 22 January. Today NEODyS very slightly lowered its risk assessment for this object.
Update: At mid-afternoon in Pasadena, the JPL Sentry 2004 MN4 risk assessement hasn't yet been updated to incorporate today's newly available optical observations. However, JPL's Small-Body Astrometric Radar Observations page has been updated to include listings of successful 2004 MN4 radar observations on 27, 29, and 30 January, and we can presume that the next assessment updates we will see for 2004 MN4 will make use of that far more exacting data. This next assessment publication could require completion of a thorough cross-checking process, and may be delayed if accompanying statements must first be prepared at JPL and NEODyS for public explanation of the results.
30 January 2005 - Sunday
MOS on the Web – Minor object science reports elsewhere:
- "Nasa to strike a spark of life," Independent of South Africa 30 Jan. article: "Tim Cooper, the director of the comet and meteor section of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, said about eight amateur astronomers in his group would be observing the Tempel 1 mission."
- "Woman counts blessings after falling ice chunk smashes car," Fitchburg, Massachusetts Sentinel & Enterprise 30 Jan. article: "[The] beach-ball-sized chunk of human waste [blue ice] ... totaled Nina Gambone's Toyota Corolla." — Editor's note: Such stories are of interest to those who document "meteor-wrongs" and so-called "ice meteors."
- "Fireball seen over Madrid," AFP wire story 29 Jan. at Brunei Direct
- NASA messages to Outer Planet Research Community," 27 Jan. posting at SpaceRef.com: "Outer Planets Research funding has not been cut."
Namings: The Torrance, California Daily Breeze has an article today about Ved Chirayath, a high school student whose detection of a known extrasolar planet with amateur equipment won him a fourth place in the 2003 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which in turn brought the naming of LINEAR Main Belt discovery 19004 Chirayath (2000 RU62) in the 2 September 2004 IAU MPC namings batch (news).
David Dixon tells A/CC:
38540 Stevens was named for #448 Desert Moon observer Berton Stevens. In 1999 it happened to be a recently discovered MBA that we were following up the night he visited Jornada and got introduced to CCD-based minor planet observing. He now observes about twice as many minor planets on an annual basis as I do at 715 (his day job schedule allows him longer sessions than mine does).
This naming was in the 27 January 2005 IAU MPC namings batch — see below.
Risk monitoring: Today's Daily Orbit Update (DOU) MPEC reports that Desert Moon Observatory in New Mexico caught 2005 BE2 yesterday morning, adding 9.857 days to what had been a 1.044-day observing arc. Today JPL and NEODyS removed this three-quarter-kilometer object as a risk.
Today's DOU also carries observations of 2004 MN4 from yesterday morning from Junk Bond Observatory [URL fixed] in Arizona and last night from Jurassien-Vicques Observatory in Switzerland and Pla D'Arguines Observatory in Spain. Today both risk monitors very slightly raised their overall 2004 MN4 risk ratings.
Updates: JPL has posted 2004 BX26. This half-kilometer object is fading and will soon go out of view for most NEO observers. So far, in fact, it has been reported observed only by Andrea Boattini's team with access to 2.2m and 3.56m telescopes at La Silla in Chile.
The JPL Asteroid Radar History page is showing that 2004 MN4 has become the 162nd near-Earth object to be observed by planetary radar. It was scheduled at Arecibo [URL fixed] in Puerto Rico during 27-29 January.
29 January 2005 - Saturday
Risk monitoring: NEODyS today posted 2005 BX26 with a dozen-plus low-rated impact solutions. This object, estimated at a bit more than a half-kilometer wide, was discovered on January 17th by Andrea Boattini and Hermann Boehnhardt at La Silla in Chile and was confirmed and followed by them on 18, 20, 21, and 24 January. They used the ESO/MPI 2.2m telescope and the 3.56m New Technology Telescope (NTT) in two configurations for this work, according to discovery MPEC 2005-B52 issued on the 25th. Today's Daily Orbit Update (DOU) MPEC reports additional observations coded to Boattini at La Silla from early on the 27th.
Today's DOU also carries observations of 2004 MN4 from McCarthy Observatory in Connecticut from this morning, and today NEODyS and JPL very slightly lowered their risk assessments for this object.
28 January 2005 - Friday
MOS on the Web – Minor object science reporting elsewhere:
- "Spectacular fireball seen falling to earth before meteor lands near Madrid," AP wire story at CBC Canada 28 Jan.: "A spectacular fireball meteor fell from the sky Thursday night before falling in a neighbourhood near two Madrid airports, emergency services said Friday."
- "County considers light ordinance," WAVY-TV Portsmouth, Virginia 28 Jan. article
- "Colfax comet spotter gets international exposure," Auburn, California Journal 28 Jan. article about Don Machholz
- "NASA selects SwRI to lead Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission," Southwest Research Institute 27 Jan. news release: "IBEX will image the solar system's previously invisible outer boundaries."
- David Morrison's NEO News posted 27 Jan. at SpaceRef.com: "MN4 & Deep Impact"
- "Countdown to collision," University of Maryland Diamondback 26 Jan. article about how the idea of the Deep Impact mission was launched.
- "A different 'Big Bang' may have saved Earth," USA Today 26 Jan. article: "Something very bad happened to our solar system's disk in its early years."—Steve Desch. See related Arizona State University 25 Jan. and University of Florida 12 Jan. news releases.
- "New Research Suggests Sedna Might be an Emissary from Unknown Regions of The Solar System," Planetary Society 24 Jan. article
Namings: The Minor Planet Center's Numbered Minor Planets Discovery Circumstances pages were updated again yesterday, this time with 71 new namings, from 4808 Ballaero (1925 BA) to 95959 Covadonga (2003 SU224), now the highest numbered minor planet to be named in the public record. This batch includes 25924 Douglasadams (2001 DA42) and other namings mentioned in MSNBC's 26 January report (see below), as well as 38540 Stevens (1999 VG2), 77870 MOTESS (2001 SM), 88292 Bora-Bora (2001 NL6), 89264 Sewanee (2001 VN2), and 92685 Cordellorenz (2000 QD71). And among these 71 namings there were also a few changes in discovery location and credit.
Risk monitoring: Yesterday's Daily Orbit Update (DOU) MPEC didn't carry any current data for objects with impact solutions, but did report observations of 2004 XK3 coded to David Tholen at Mauna Kea from December 18th, just inside the near end of this object's 15.967-day observing arc. And yesterday JPL very slightly raised, and NEODyS slightly lowered, risk ratings for this small object.
Today's DOU reports observation of only three unnumbered asteroids, and one of them is 2004 VD17, caught early today UT by Jornada Observatory in New Mexico. Today both risk monitors slightly raised their risk assessments for this half-kilometer object. At present JPL and NEODyS both have three VD17 impact solutions for 4 May 2091, and two of each set are flagged at Torino Scale 1 (a routine alert that an object "merits special monitoring"). JPL also has an impactor at TS-1 in 2102.
26 January 2005 - Wednesday
MOS on the Web – Minor object science reporting elsewhere:
- "Meteorite Hits Cambodia, Sparks Fires and Prayers," Reuters 26 Jan. wire story: "A 10 pound meteorite ... thumped into the ground in the war-scarred southeast Asian nation on Monday morning." — Editor's note: A meteor of this size wouldn't start fires.
- "'Meteorite' arouses Cambodians' superstitions," AFP wire story 26 Jan. at ABC Australia
- "'Shooting Stars' On Mars: Messages From A Meteorite," Space.com 26 Jan. article: "[The] Oregon L5 Society ... has advocated outfitting instruments on one or more Mars landers to identify and characterize the meteoroid flux at Mars."
- "Evidence builds for supernova's role in solar system creation," Arizona State Univ. 25 Jan. news release: "[The] the Ningqiang carbonaceous chondrite ... is a space relic that formed shortly after the solar systemís creation. It contains pockets of still older materials or 'inclusions.' "
- "Fukuoka residents mistake vapor trail for UFO," Mainichi Shimbun (Japan) 24 Jan. article — Editor's note: This is a story that repeats often, and even scientists can be fooled, as happened famously with a Concorde jet contrail (see NASA APOD for 1 October 2003). Last week, on the 18th, we noted another such news item from Texas, and A/CC reader Peter Lake responded by sending to that TV station a photo he took of a set of similar contrails over Australia.
Namings: The Minor Planet Center's Numbered Minor Planets Discovery Circumstances and Periodic Comet Numbers pages were updated yesterday. There is one [not two, as originally reported–Ed.] new comet numbering this month: 164P/Christensen (2004 Y1). There were no new asteroid namings in the batch, but 6267 Rozhen (1987 SO9) was renamed 6267 Smolyan, and there were changes in discovery circumstance details for that and 48 other asteroids, such as changing "New Mexico" to "Socorro" and "Budapest" to "Konkoly" for discovery locations, and changing the 59473 1999 HT1 discovery credit from "LINEAR" to "Visnjan."
Thanks to Douglas Durig for pointing out that MSNBC has a piece today stating that "Asteroid Douglasadams was among the 71 newly named celestial objects announced Tuesday." This is about the reported naming of Main Belter 2001 DA42 as Douglasadams for the author of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," and also mentions five other asteroid namings. These are all indeed numbered asteroids, but none of them are named yet in the public record at the Minor Planet Center. They may be in the next namings batch, or perhaps the Minor Planet Center hasn't yet finished its namings update process for this time around.
The Independent of South Africa has an AFP wire story today about the naming of Main Belter 50413 Petrginz (2000 DQ1) for "a Czech Jewish boy, who became famous almost 60 years after his death in Auschwitz." This naming was in the 5 March 2004 namings batch. Update: See also an AP wire story at the Jerusalem Post 26 January.
The previous namings and comet numbering were released on December 21st (news).
Risk monitoring: To summarize, there was no Daily Orbit Update (DOU) MPEC issued on Monday the 24th. Yesterday there was a DOU with observation of 2004 MN4 from Verona Observatory in Italy from late on January 21st, from Wildberg Observatory in Germany two nights later, and early Monday UT from Los Molinos Observatory in Uruguay. Today's DOU has 2004 MN4 observations from Crespadoro Observatory in Italy on the night of the 22nd. Since their 2004 MN4 risk assessments of the 23rd, NEODyS and JPL have very slightly altered their overall risk ratings, one up and one down but remaining about the same together.
Today's DOU has observation of 2004 VD17 from Jornada Observatory in New Mexico early yesterday, the first since January 18th. Today both risk monitors raised their risk assessments for this half-kilometer object.
Big thanks to Stu Megan for help with tracking risk monitor activity at key times when A/CC's editor has to be away from the Internet.
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