– The Asteroid/Comet Connection –
– The Tracking News –
– Earth's Busy Neighborhood –
(and, formerly, Major News About Minor Objects)
[ Traffic Report | The Tracking News | domain name | disclaimer | site history ]
Publisher: The Asteroid/Comet Connection (A/CC) and its various activities have been published online since 2002 by Columbine of Maine, which is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA and is owned by Bill Allen and Sally Beach. Previously Columbine published 3D Artist magazine during 1991-2002, the first and longest-run peer-written how-to print magazine for the computer 3D graphics field. In the process we introduced the now widely used term, "3D artist." (One of Web's oldest sites, launched in 1995 but mostly inactive since 2002, 3dartist.com, was taken down in October 2015 pending an archival overhaul.) Prior to publishing the magazine, Columbine provided book packaging and other publisher support and publishing activities, including custom programming.
This Web site has operated for more than a decade, since early 2002 completely without outside financial support. News has been posted on a daily basis since then except for a few unplanned days early-on when Internet connections were unavailable while traveling, and except in recent years when away for occasional short camping trips.
The A/CC pages are the creation of Bill Allen (editor, writer, illustrator, and programmer), who has worked in commercial and non-profit publishing for four decades, including a period as a freelance aviation and science writer/photographer for several major popular magazines (bylined as "W.A. Allen"). While editor of 3D Artist magazine during 1991 to 2002, he took a special interest in GIS (geographic information systems) as applied to 3D graphics. In 2006 he received an AAS degree in GIS and now works as a freelance GIS technician and programmer as applied to cartography and spatial analysis. An example of that work is the Horton Family Maps Street Maps atlas for Santa Fe County and north-central New Mexico communities, as well as wall maps for this region.
Honors: Main Belt asteroid 48643 Allen-Beach (updated June 2010) was named by the International Astromical Union in May 2004 for A/CC publishers Bill Allen and Sally Beach on the nomination of that object's discoverers, Piero Sicoli and Francesco Manca at Sormano Observatory in Italy.
About the HohmannTransfer domain name: A "Hohmann transfer orbit" is the most efficient maneuver to use in moving between orbits, such as from Earth's orbit around the Sun to the orbit of an asteroid or comet around the Sun.
This maneuver is named for the German civil engineer who first proposed it, Walter Hohmann, who was born in 1880. He didn't work in rocketry professionally (and wasn't associated with military rocketry), but was a key member of Germany's pioneering Society for Space Travel (VfR) that included people such as Willy Ley, Hermann Oberth, and Werner von Braun. He published his concept of how to transfer between orbits in his 1925 book, The Attainability of Celestial Bodies. Allied bombing shortly before the end of WW-II led to his death in 1945. There is an excellent biography and explanation of Hohmann's work available in a 2.8Mb PDF by William I.McLaughlin from the Journal of Space Mission Architecture.
The Asteroid/Comet Connection adopted this URL in 2002 to underline that, more than just lights moving in the night sky, small Solar-System bodies are real worlds and destinations of great potential for today's fledgling robotic explorers and tomorrow's human explorers and developers. It's all about being there.
Minor object science, A/CC's definition: "Minor object science" is the part of astronomy, planetary science, geology, and orbital dynamics that concentrates on studying Solar System asteroids, comets, dwarf planets, Kuiper Belt and other trans-Neptunian objects, the Oort Cloud, meteors and meteorites, interplanetary and interstellar dust particles, and circumstellar disks where such objects also exist or are being formed around other stars. (In August 2006 the IAU officially defined as "small Solar-System bodies" all objects orbiting the Sun that are not planets, dwarf planets, or satellites.)
Disclaimer: We do the very best reporting we can, but what you see here is only reporting and not scientific analysis. Understand that 1) "The Asteroid/Comet Connection" pages are only a useful reference and are NOT AUTHORITATIVE, and 2), of the many links given here, some lead to authoritative and up-to-date information, and some do not.
Attention writers, journalists, NEWS MEDIA: Please see "Understanding Risk Pages" by Jon Giorgini of JPL before writing up hazardous objects from reports in our pages. To obtain solid quotes about asteroid and comet topics, especially matters concerning Earth impact risks, please contact qualified sources directly, such as professional astronomers at observatories with asteroid observing programs such as the Catalina Sky Survey and Spacewatch. Scientific commentators available to the media for background information and interviews include senior staff at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Minor Planet Center and Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (MPC/CBAT) in Cambridge, Mass., orbital dynamicist Andrea Milani of NEODyS at the University of Pisa in Italy, astronomer David Morrison at NASA Ames Research Center in Sunnyvale, Calif., astronomer David Tholen at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, and astronomer Donald Yeomans and astrodynamicists Steve Chesley and Jon Giorgini at NASA/JPL in Pasadena, Calif. Note: In the event of an actual possibility of pending or future emergency, there is an IAU policy and process in place that may lead to withholding information until the data can undergo an expedited thorough review, and until an IAU consensus-of-experts' announcement can be prepared to deliver to governments and the public.
Page & site status, 2018:
31 Oct.: Gave first notice concerning the retirement of this Web site by September 2020, quite possibly sooner, unless a knowledgeable volunteer steps forward to rebuild and continue the work we have done here for the last sixteen-plus years.
1 Feb.: Launched a new NHATS ephemerides page (since discontinued) to support NASA's human-accessible targets observing campaign and to begin replacing the original and no longer maintained Lockheed Martin potential mission destination listings.
22 June: Stopped updating A/CC's now discontinued backup Web site.
20 June: Finished the conversion from Earth's Hill sphere to its gravitaional sphere of influence (SOI) as a prinicipal reference boundary for traffic counts and timeline reporting, which required requerying JPL Horizons for orbital data for all Earth SOI crossings since 2007.
19 May: Began a major switch in A/CC's close-passer traffic reporting, changing from using Earth's Hill sphere to now using Earth's gravitational sphere of influence (SOI) as a key reference boundary. Our closest focus is on natural objects in solar orbits that come within this bounday and also background objects that come within ten lunar distances (LD) of Earth. Ten LD is an arbitrary boundary of no astronomical importance but useful as a way to screen the vastly larger background population of near-Earth asteroids and occasional comets. (We could just as well use five LD for background screening, and may someday if routine daily traffic counts become large enough.)
10 April: Pulled references from "The Tracking News" to A/CC's backup Web site from this day forward.
13 Jan.: Added the "Traffic Report" section to the daily Tracking News with news about objects flying within ten lunar distances of Earth, and implemented << arrow >> links for jumping readers between "Observations and Orbits of Comets" MPECs, like already available for DOU MPECs and radar astrometry news.
7 Nov.: Earth's Busy Neighborhood traffic reporting resumed with no gaps in the Timeline.
4 Nov.: A/CC began posting the Potentially Accessible Asteroids list from Josh Hopkins of Lockheed Martin and an ephemerides page of possibly visible objects from that list.
15-17 Oct.: A/CC was requested to bring special attention to candidate destinations for robotic and human asteroid missions, which we started by adding a special "campaigns" section to our rendition of the MPC's Daily Orbit Update MPEC. Radar observing campaigns are included, too.
9 Aug.: Earth's Busy Neighborhood traffic reporting came to a screeching halt when our data-querying scripts stopped working following changes in JPL's Horizons telnet interface.
16 June: Went to new, expanded, multi-page Traffic Timeline & Statistics format.
31 March: Implemented new script-generated Observatory Links page to replace the original Observatories page that had been manually maintained but not fully updated in recent years.
24 March: Added Earth's Busy Neighborhood Timeline & Statistics page.
17 Jan.: Implemented radar astrometry coverage beginning Jan. 1st. Just follow radar section menu << arrow >> links to find these occasional reports (several so far in January).
2 Jan.: Added sky charts to the Traffic Report for Earth's Busy Neighborhood.
14 Nov.: Inaugurated the semi-automated Traffic Report for Earth's Busy Neighborhood.
16 Sept.: Stopped publishing links to science papers and news, and stopped general news narration. This constrains current site activity to automated reports of observations and risk monitoring, so the daily news publication name has been changed from "Major News About Minor Objects" to "The Tracking News."
1 June: Went to full daily news production in the new format. Changed the CRT to a new, more automated format.
14 May: Introduced a prototype daily news page, continuing the "Major News About Minor Objects" publication name, and retired our monthly news format and weekly small asteroid reports.
18 Jan. Began including minor-object science paper listings with daily news reporting.
30 Aug.: A major A/CC feature and a number of other pages were withdrawn as being seriously out of date, incomplete, and without prospect of being brought up-to-date anytime in the foreseeable future: The Catchall Catalog in its entirety as well as pages on scientific references, scholarships, the calendar page, and an old "topics" page covering miscellaneous subjects.
17 June: Resumed posting minor-object news links.
27 April: A/CC editor/publisher Bill Allen finishes full-time studies, graduating with an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Geographic Information Technology (GIT, better known as "GIS" -- "geographic information systems"), with a specialty in GIS programming and scripting for ESRI ArcGIS using various languages, including especially Python.
5 Dec.: Resumed posting "small object" reports, now archived-off weekly from a semi-automated seven-day running report. This move helps highlight how busy is Earth's neighborhood and recognizes some of the best and most needed minor object observing being done by amateur and professional astronomers.
21 Sept.: A/CC posts its last regular news report, ending a run of daily news coverage that began more than three years earlier in March 2002. A/CC continues, however, to report risk monitoring news via the semi-automated CRT page. See editor's note.
11 Sept.: The CRT News Archive goes public. See editor's note.
11 May: The Catchall Catalog updates for what turns out to be the last time with a total of 286,507 listings for asteroids, comets, and distant minor objects.
10 Jan.: A/CC editor/publisher Bill Allen begins attending college full-time to make a career transition.
2 Nov.: A/CC news changes to an easier to create and maintain "news stack" format. See editor's note with a little history.
31 Oct.: The last of the old weekly "small objects" report is posted. These reports had grown since beginning in Dec. 2003, and by this point much of the work was aided by programming scripts but still required more time than was available.
29 Oct.: Semi-automated risk-monitoring news reporting added to the Consolidated Risk Tables (CRT) page.
9 Aug.: An alternate simpler daily news format without a "front cover" goes into use on many days during Summer 2004 when minor object and risk monitoring news was in short supply.
6 May: Main Belt asteroid 48643 Allen-Beach (1995 UA2) is named by the International Astromical Union (IAU) on the nomination of discoverers Piero Sicoli and Francesco Manca at Sormano Observatory for A/CC publishers Bill Allen and Sally Beach.
1 Jan.: A/CC News changes to a new 800x540-pixel paged "panel" format with a daily "front cover" to showcase minor object images and illustrations.
3 Nov.: A/CC News adds an XML RSS news feed to take news and news alerts directly to readers.
1 Nov.: A/CC News switches from a 14-day "news stack" format to a page-per-day Major News About Minor Objects newsletter format.
24 Sept: An A/CC partial alternate mirror site is now available, with an alternate A/CC E-mail address (but put "A/CC" into the subject line).
18 Sept.: The A/CC News pages begin to use a tabular "Summary Risk Table" and introduces the Consolidated Risk Tables (CRT) page with running analysis by the risk monitors for objects under recent observation that have impact solutions.
2 July: Scholarships page first posted, and on 2 Sept. completely revised at new URL on this site.
7 Feb.: New streamlined news page introduced, now working as a "front end" to the A/CC Catchall Catalog of Minor Objects.
14 Jan.: The A/CC Catalog goes into version 4 beta, now called the "A/CC Catchall Catalog of Minor Objects," catching almost all 200,000-plus known asteroids and comets.
10 Sept.: News page reorganized.
26 July: Our routine reporting about risk monitoring sites brought some unexpected attention. See A/CC's "2002 NT7 report."
11 July: A new essay feature, "Connections....," begins with "Transit of Vesta" (since removed).
9 July: The A/CC Catalog goes into version 3 with a compact format and more complete linking to other online databases.
4 June: This entire Web activity transfers to www.HohmannTransfer.com from its original temporary location on the 3D Artist magazine Web site.
22 May: News archive pages added, such as for April 2002.
6 May: Our original "hand-carved HTML" archival Catalog page is now superceded by database-driven version-2 Catalog to allow easier expansion. This database also incorporates a new Scientific References page.
7 April: A bit of a site overhaul to improve finding news and other information here.
20 March: New Topics page added.
16 March: New Catalog page added (since 6 May this page has been used only for unnumbered comets, and, in 2003, was being phased out).
13 March: The A/CC news page begins to "go live."
28 Feb. 2002: The original A/CC announcement page was first posted online, and was subsequently modified and updated during 1-12 March.