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The Asteroid/Comet Connection's daily news journal about asteroids, comets & meteors   –   1-14 November 2004

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[ 15 November 2004 news ]


14 November 2004 - Sunday

Precovery:  MPEC 2004-V67 today shows that Felix Hormuth found 2004 RN9 in the SkyMorph archive of NEAT images from 11 September 2001 from Mt. Palomar and eleven days later from Haleakala. This Earth-crossing object, estimated to be on the order of 235 meters/yards wide, was discovered by LINEAR on September 7th this year (MPEC 2004-R37) and was followed through October 14th, then caught once more, on the 5th of this month, by Jornada Observatory.

Errata:  Reporting on precise work should itself be precise, so thanks to Reinder Bouma for these corrections. About yesterday's extrasolar news with a report that ices were "detected at approximately 10 AU from the central star — similar to the orbit of Uranus," he notes that the correct comparison is with Saturn. (The average distance of Uranus from the Sun is 19.19 AU, while Saturn is at 9.54 AU.) And, in regard to an update to Friday's news about 2004 TU12's cometary activity, he noticed a disparity between Gianluca Masi's report of first observing this phenomenon at "Nov. 11.9 UT" and Friday's Daily Orbit Update MPEC 2004-V56 showing Masi team 2004 TU12 observations during November 12.045-12.055, and questioned whether local and universal time might have been confused. A/CC noted that Masi's NEO Page reported "103 CCD frames collected between 11 Nov 2004, 2203 UT and 12 Nov 2004, 0027 UT," and inquired. It turned out that these times were were indeed local to the Southern TIE telescope at Las Campanas, Chile Daylight Time (UT-3), and that the discovery time reported in IAUC 8436 is "Nov 12.0."
      Gianluca Masi has posted a new image of P/2004 TU12 (Siding Spring) to his NEO page from this morning, noting that the tail has gotten longer but fainter.

Risk monitoring:  In the "here today, gone tomorrow" world of risk monitoring, 2004 VT60 is now gone. It was first posted two days ago with one low-rated impact solution, but yesterday looked like it had become a more serious concern. With new observations reported today, all 91 solutions at JPL and 156 at NEODyS were eliminated.



13 November 2004 - Saturday

Meteor news: has an article from yesterday, "The Leonid Meteor Shower 2004: Modest Peak Expected Nov. 16-19." National Geographic also had a report yesterday, and NASA's Astrobiology Magazine today (the spectacular top graphic is Hubble's view of an unrelated comet disruption). And see a link below for Vaubaillon and Colas's report that predicted a peak November 8th and also peaks at 0642 and 2149 UTC on the 19th.

Distant objects:  The University of Arizona has a November 10th news release telling that one of the larger Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt objects, 55565 2002 AW197, "reflects 18 percent of its incident light and is about 700 kilometers (435 miles) in diameter. That's considerably smaller and more reflective than expected," down from a diameter estimate of 1,500 km. (932 miles). This was determined by John Stansberry et al. using the Spitzer Space Telescope (SST). Its MIPS instrument detected "a surface temperature of around minus 370 degrees Fahrenheit at an astonishing distance of ... one-and-a-half times farther away from the sun than Pluto."
      Sky & Telescope reported November 11th that three teams are finding that EKBOs "are considerably smaller than previously estimated," which was based on a 4% albedo. The other two teams studied "the orbits of six of the 13 known Kuiper Belt binary objects" from Hubble and ground observatories to determine their masses. "When assigned plausible densities, the KBOs in the binaries have a wide range of albedos ranging from 4 to 41 percent."

Extrasolar news:  The Spitzer Space Telescope has a November 9th news release telling about the "first clear detection of a variety of ices — water, ammonium, and carbon dioxide — in the inner planet-forming region near a young star about 120 light years away." Designated CRBR 2422.8-3423, it is "believed to resemble our own solar system in its infancy." See a chart, which notes this system is 390 light years (120 pc) away, in the constellation Ophiuchus. reported November 11th that the ice was "detected at approximately 10 AU from the central star — similar to the orbit of Uranus," and "that up to half of the material in the disk is ice."
      The University of Rochester has a November 9th news release about reworking planetary formation theories to explain the apparently small planet "on the order of only 100,000 to half a million years old" detected in the icy dust disk around a star 420 light-years from Earth. The Sun-like CoKu Tau 4, at about a million years old, was thought to be too young to have planets yet, and the new "findings have implications for gaining insight into how our own solar system came to be." The planet is believed to be about the size of Neptune and at about the same distance from its star. The original discovery by Don Watson et al. was announced June 9th.

Bits & pieces:  The Hubble Space Telescope has a November 11th news release about an asteroid discovered by chance in Hubble Space Telescope images. Nothing is said about whether the data was reported to the Minor Planet Center and if a designation was issued.
      The ESA Mars Express mission has an item from November 11th about "Europe’s highest-resolution pictures so far of the Martian moon Phobos [showing] the Mars-facing side ... with a resolution of about seven metres per pixel," and also has images from five previous passes. An article yesterday shows NASA images as well. It notes that scientists "suspect kinship with carbonaceous-chondrite asteroids," and Phobos may be a captured asteroid.
      NASA's Astrobiology Magazine has an ersatz interview November 10th with Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweikart, developed from his 2003 presentation on The Need for a United Nations Asteroid Deflection Treaty. That paper can be downloaded in full from the B612 Foundation. has a 10 November report about the 6th annual meeting of the Space Resources Roundtable (SRR), held November 1-3 at the Colorado School of Mines, but nothing about developing minor objects.

Risk monitoring:  The Saturday Daily Orbit Update MPEC reports observation of all four objects currently in view that have impact solutions. This includes a set of ten observations of 2004 VM24 spanning 2.64 hours on November 11th and 39 observations over a 3.76-hour period yesterday, all from the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) in Arizona.
      NEODyS posted 2004 VT60 today with 153 highly preliminary impact solutions that begin in May 2006, while JPL's assessment went from a single solution in 2016 to 91 in the years 2015-2103. And both risk monitors have updated their three other active risk assessment today.
      Update:  Impact solutions are not predictions but rather possibilities that haven't yet been removed, and most are soon removed as further observations become available. In the case of 2004 VT60, all solutions were removed the very next day.



12 November 2004 - Friday

Asteroidal object 2004 TU12 displaying comet-
like activity, discovered 12 Nov. 2004 by La 
Canada Obs., image courtesy of Juan Lacruz

Comet news:  Juan Lacruz at La Canada Observatory in Spain told the Comets Mailing List that he observed a tail today on large near-Earth object, 2004 TU12. List members upon seeing the image commented on how faint the tail is compared to the object itself (a stellar point of light, seen large in the image due to its brightness). This brought speculation that 2004 TU12 could be an almost extinct comet (a portion of the "asteroid" population is believed to be inactive comet nuclei), or that the tail could be from dust raised by an impact. However, Maik Meyer pointed out that "Perihelion was about 2.5 days ago [*corrected from the originally stated "months"], so the start of activity would be reasonable." Late word has it that Montcabre Observatory in Spain has confirmed the tail discovery.
      Those who have observed 2004 TU12 are asked to re-examine their images for earlier activity. Reiner Stoss commented to the Comets-ML that maybe this activity hadn't been noticed before because observers "did not stack their images to search for cometary features." The image above from Juan Lacruz is a stack of 80 30-second exposures.
      This object's discovery and precovery were in the news October 11th and 13th, when it was noted as the largest near-Earth asteroid discovery since March 2001.

Update:  The IAU CBAT/MPC Astronomical Headlines page shows that this object has been named and redesignated as comet P/2004 TU12 (Siding Spring). It also says this object was "linked by the MPC to observations spanning 1990-2003." As A/CC reported at the time, that impressive ONS linkage work, for which the usual update MPEC was not issued, was done by Genny Sansaturio.
      If previous observations were of a completely coma-free comet nucleus, then the previous size estimate, based on absolute magnitude (brightness), gets tossed out. Rather than a diameter on the order of 4.9 km. (3 miles), the estimate is upward of 11 km. (6.9 miles), since comet nuclei surfaces reflect much less light than typical asteroids.
      Gianluca Masi tells A/CC that the official record on P/2004 TU12, as published in IAUC 8436 late today (not publicly available), shows that the discovery of the cometary nature was independently reported by first his team and then by Juan Lacruz. His team reported to the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) from observations "last night (Nov 11.9 UT) from Chile" [later corrected to Nov. 12.0 UT], and they were keeping silent about it until CBAT had done its work.
      Concerning determination of the onset of activity, he says "2004 TU12 was extensively observed by my team and we did not see any obvious cometary feature [before Nov. 12.0 UT], even after co-adding images." An image and a movie of P/2004 TU12 are available on Masi's NEO page.

Risk monitoring:  JPL today posted 2004 VT60 with a single low-rated impact solution, and NEODyS and JPL updated their risk assessments for two of three other objects currently in view that have impact solutions. 2004 VT60 was discovered yesterday by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona and announced today in MPEC 2004-V58.



11 November 2004 - Thursday

IAU Circulars:  An individual, who inquired to the IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams about its new policy on excluding the public from reading IAU Circulars, has forwarded the response to several mailing lists and to A/CC. We have posted the full text.

Risk monitoring:  Of the three objects currently in view that have impact solutions, all were updated today by NEODyS and JPL after observations were reported in Thursday's Daily Orbit Update (DOU) MPEC. Two of these have observing campaigns, as noted yesterday, but the largest of them, and the one with presently the higher risk assessment, is 2004 VD17.
      Today's DOU reports observations of 2002 GJ8 [alternate link] on 22 April and 3 May 2002 from NEAT's telescope at Mt. Palomar, within the object's existing 31.905-day observation arc. The two triplets were found by Josep Julia Gomez in the SkyMorph archive. Today JPL very slightly raised its risk assessment for this half-kilometer object, which has a single low-rated impact solution in 2089. JPL originally had this object posted during 18 April to 4 May 2002, but recalculated and reposted it this year on May 20th.

P/2003 YM159-A (left) and -B 
from Catalina Sky Survey (left) 10 Nov. 
& Great Shefford Obs. 11 Nov. 2004 
Click for full images

Distant traveling companions P/2003 YM159-A (left) and -B are seen in both frames here. At left is the Catalina Sky Survey's discovery image from yesterday (at 33% of received image size) and at right is imagery from this morning from Great Shefford Obs. (enlarged 200%). See the full images.

Comet split:  MPEC 2004-V52 issued yesterday shows that an object with an asteroidal designation has been found to be, not just a comet, but a disrupted comet. The A and B components of P/2003 YM159 (LINEAR-Catalina) were observed by the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) yesterday morning. They are distant, with perihelia preliminarily calculated as coming next February beyond 4.4 AU. The MPEC states that CSS discovered P/2003 YM159-B, while P/2003 YM159-A was observed by LINEAR in New Mexico on 17 and 30 December 2003 and 8 October this year.
      This dual comet presents a big problem for MPC packed designations. An object originally identified as cometary will have a comet-style designation such as C/2003 S4, which packs as CK03S040, with a zero in the last of eight fixed positions. If the comet splits, the trailing zero is replaced with lower-case letters designating each piece, so C/2003 S4-A packs as CK03S04a. But the trailing character in an asteroid-style designation isn't empty and is needed for correct unpacking, such as PK03YF9M for P/2003 YM159. The solution used in this MPEC is to drop the trailing letter anyway, so that P/2003 YM159-A is packed as PK03YF9a. An unpacking algorithm will either choke on that input or erroneously produce P/2003 YA159, so astrometric software writers will need to create object-specific exception handling. A/CC hasn't run into this situation before, so this may be the first time the Minor Planet Center has encountered this problem, or the first time the problem has been handled this way.
      Special exceptions may be necessary, but they are an invitation to software and human error. That point is demonstrated by this MPEC itself, where the packed designation for the B component is given as PJ03YF9b. When unpacked, the J switched for K results in the year 1903, not 2003, thus requiring yet more exception handling.

Update:  In a message to the Minor Planet Mailing list (MPML) today, Akimasa Nakamura points out that the A and B components of the distant binary object 2001 QW322 were separately designated in MPEC 2001-V34 (and also MPEC 2002-L30) by placing the a and b code in the usually blank space between position year and month. And he asks about yesterday's MPEC, "What if other 2003 Y?159 turns out to be a comet with fragments?"
      With binary minor planets, the A component is considered to be the primary (or one of equals), and the B component is in orbit about the A component. And, when the primary/secondary relationship has been determined, the secondary receives a satellite-style designation. With comets to date, the components are not in orbit around each other, the A, B, C, etc. designations are in discovery order, and the A component isn't necessarily the largest member. Nevertheless, if the goal is for MPC formatted data be processable without requiring astrometric software upgrades to handle object-specific exceptions, then the cited solution for binary objects is far better than that used in yesterday's comet MPEC. It is also a solution that is likely to have been at least partially implemented already in astrometric programs.

Update #2:  Peter Birtwhistle, who caught P/2004 YM159-A and -B this morning at Great Shefford Observatory in England (see image), told the Astrometrica Mailing List today that he was able to report astrometry to the MPC "as packed designations PK03YF9a and PK03YF9b." However, Astrometrica didn't recognize these designations as cometary and instead reported asteroidal magnitudes. "Not a major point, but if anyone gets astrometry of this split comet you may want to edit the MPC report before sending," and he has learned there may not be a quick fix.

Update #3:  Peter Birtwhistle has posted a detailed report about how Brian Marsden at the MPC puzzled out what LINEAR and Catalina Sky Survey had discovered. And he comments to A/CC about his and Catalina's images that "Their field is actually only about 6' west of my image and there is a little bit of overlap."

Correction (12 Nov.):  On follow-up, A/CC has been informed that the Catalina Sky Survey P/2004 YM159 discovery image was not a single 30-second exposure as originally reported, but rather "was a co-added image (pixels not resampled) of four 30-second exposures."



10 November 2004 - Wednesday

Risk monitoring:  JPL early today posted 2004 VM24 with impact solutions (see news below), followed later by NEODyS. Today's Daily Orbit Update (DOU) MPEC carried further observations for VM24 and for 2004 VZ14, which NEODyS also posted today. Later the European Spaceguard Central Node posted observing campaigns for both of these small objects.
      Today for the first time NEODyS posted 2002 TX55, putting it under the site's "Lost objects" category. This small object hasn't been seen since 29 October 2002, but new archival positions were reported in yesterday's DOU (see below).
      Just as a reminder, the details of this risk monitoring news were quickly posted to the CRT page when recorded earlier today. That page has always updated sooner and more often than the general A/CC news page, and now it also carries our primary risk monitoring reports, which will be getting a facelift when some new scripting is finished.



9 November 2004 - Tuesday

IAU Circulars:  The International Astronomical Union (IAU) Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) and Minor Planet Center (MPC) have a policy statement about CBAT IAU Circulars (IAUCs) and Minor Planet Electronic Circulars (MPECs) that has long said, "The free availability of circulars at this site is on a trial basis and is subject to withdrawal at any time without warning." Today CBAT exercised its privilege to limit access to IAUCs to paid subscribers only. A password is now required to access all IAUCs made public since going electronic last decade as well as selected older IAUCs going back 82 years that have been put online. Given that there are many thousands of links to IAUCs just on the A/CC site, and considering that observatories and astronomers everywhere link to their own work published in IAUCs, this instantly breaks what must be an enormous number of links spread across the Web.
      An inquiry from A/CC brought an informal response from CBAT that this policy change is motivated by a funding shortfall. Much of CBAT's work over the years has been supported by subscription fees, but subscriptions have dropped by about a third since CBAT began putting IAUCs online free (after some delay to favor subscribers). So, to encourage financial support, all public access has now been withdrawn until subscriptions pick up or large donations are received (subscriptions start at us$6/month for computer service including IAUCs and MPECs by E-mail).
      If you know exactly what you are looking for and how to form an effective query, some IAUC information can be retrieved through NASA ADS, but IAUC full text there also requires password access (ADS, like CBAT, is hosted at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics).
      A/CC has also been informed by someone with an ear to the ground at Harvard that the financial distress isn't just at CBAT but at the MPC, thus IAUC restriction is "the first shoe to drop" in possible cuts that could involve issues more important than who gets to read circulars.
      See an update and also A/CC's public service page urging readers to support the Minor Planet Center.

Flybys:  MPEC 2004-V50 today announces small asteroid 2004 VM24, discovered this morning by the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) in Arizona and confirmed with the Australian National University 1m telescope and by Great Shefford Observatory in England. Francesco Manca at Sormano Observatory tells A/CC that, "based on my preliminary orbit, it will pass at 0.005279 AU = 789.727 Km or about 2 LD from the Earth on Nov 12, 2004, 12.50 UT." From the MPC's first calculation of absolute magnitude (brightness), this object is estimated from a standard but inexact formula to have a diameter of about 25 meters/yards. Update: JPL and NEODyS on the 10th UT posted this object with impact solutions.
      Two somewhat larger objects flew past further away yesterday UT — 2004 UR (90 meters) at 5.4 lunar distances and 2004 VZ (45 meters) at 7.7 LD.

2004 VC17 bottom & 2004 VC17 top 
by Robert Hutsebaut 8 Nov. 2004

Bright PHAs 2004 VC17 (bottom) and 2004 VD17 caught Monday by Robert Hutsebaut using a Rent-A-Scope at New Mexico Skies.

Risk monitoring:  JPL and NEODyS have posted 2004 VD17 with a large number of highly preliminary impact solutions. This object's discovery was announced yesterday and further observations were reported in today's Daily Orbit Update (DOU) MPEC.
      NEODyS and JPL removed their impact solutions for 2004 VW14 today, and JPL removed its single solution for 2004 VC17.
      Today's DOU has additional observations of 2002 TX55 [alternate link] from NEAT's Mt. Palomar telescope on 9 October 2002, within its existing 25.990-day observation arc. These three positions were found in the SkyMorph archive by Josep Julia Gomez, and today JPL very slightly raised its low risk assessment for this small object.



8 November 2004 - Monday

Distant objects:  The November edition of Distant EKOs is now available. It reports a dozen-plus scientific papers, some with links to, or links leading to, preprints available online. Most of these are about protoplanetary disks, with many trying to refine theory about how the Solar System's own disk resulted in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt with Neptunian 3:2 and 2:1 resonances for the inner belt and the outer belt's apparent truncation. This includes examination of Neptune migration, possible stellar encounters, and even "Planet-X." There is also work on correlating distant object populations by their colors, and "Collisional Disruption of Porous Icy Targets." Beyond the belt, one paper concludes "that the Oort cloud may have experienced and may be even experiencing a significant renovation of its population, and that the trans-neptunian belt — via the scattered disk — may be the main feeding source." And Alan Stern looks at how 90377 Sedna could have formed in an originally circular orbit in the region where it now travels, and concludes it would have been possible "if the solar nebula extended outward to distances far beyond the Kuiper Belt." If so, then it "likely" has "a cohort of other large bodies." For even more reading, see the newsletter's links to sessions on distant objects at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Department of Planetary Science (DPS) meeting this week in Louisville, Kentucky.

Risk monitoring:  JPL has posted 2004 VC17 with one impact solution.



7 November 2004 - Sunday

Comet news:  Maik Meyer tells the Comets Mailing List that the International Astronomical Union has assigned names to three unnamed comets: C/1996 R3 (Lagerkvist), P/2003 A1 (LINEAR), and P/2004 A1 (LONEOS). See his article about helping improve C/1996 R3's orbit through archival work, the Catchall's P/2003 A1 listing (alternate), and A/CC's P/2004 A1 discovery report.

Crater news:  New Scientist has a brief item today, "Largest ever field of impact craters uncovered." See October 9th news ("Multiple impacts") for links to images and more info about this discovery in the Egyptian desert.

Risk monitoring:  Today NEODyS and JPL posted 2004 VW14, which follows its discovery announcement yesterday and additional observations in today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC. And today JPL removed its last impact solutions for 2004 VC.



6 November 2004 - Saturday

Comet news:  Two comet discoveries have been announced today. MPEC 2004-V33 announced the discovery of comet C/2004 V3 (Siding Spring). It shows observations on Wednesday first from the Siding Spring Survey (SSS) 0.5m Uppsala Schmidt Telescope and then, also at Siding Spring, from the Australian National University 1m telescope. The first preliminary calculation has perihelion at a distant 4.154 AU on January 22nd.
      The second announcement is C/2004 V4 (NEAT) in MPEC 2004-V34, which shows NEAT's observations as coming yesterday morning from its Mt. Palomar telescope in southern California, and confirmation came today from four observing facilities around the world. The first preliminary calculation has perihelion at 1.27 AU next March 3rd. Update: MPEC 2004-V46 on 8 November changed this comet's designation prefix from C/ to P/ and showed a closed-orbit calculation with perihelion at 1.92 AU on January 31st.

Meteor news: says today that people "in Europe and Asia should be on the lookout for a flurry of shooting stars, Nov. 8th around 2330 GMT [which] could reach 50 to 100 per hour," and refers readers to the 2004 Leonids page of Jeremie Vaubaillon and Francois Colas.
      Ken Newton brings to A/CC's attention Adam Hupe's message to the Meteorite Mailing List yesterday about a rock to be presented tomorrow as a possible new lunar meteorite found "near Granada, Colorado." The compositional data, however, has been reviewed in detail by lunar geochemist Randy L. Korotev as being "inconsistent in many ways" with Moon samples and lunar meteorites, and the object is suspected to be "a piece of industrial slag."

Risk monitoring:  Today JPL posted newly discovered small asteroid 2004 VZ14 with impact solutions, and NEODyS removed its solutions for 2004 VC.



5 November 2004 - Friday

Comet news:  MPEC 2004-V25 today announces the recovery of near-Earth comet P/1983 V1(Hartley-IRAS) (aka P/2004 V2) by Rob McNaught with the Australian National University 1m telescope at Siding Spring on 3 November and today, and confirmed today by Mt. John Observatory in New Zealand. Perihelion is calculated for 20 June 2005 at 1.275 AU on this comet's first return since discovery, traveling just past perpendicular to the ecliptic at a retrograde 95.7° inclination.
      As explained in IAUC 3894 of 25 November 1983, P/1983 V1 (old-style designation 1983v) was discovered independently on 4 November 1983 by Malcolm Hartley with the U.K. Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring and six days later by John Davies and Simon Green with the Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS). Cometography reports that the comet was last observed on 4 June 1984, and that it had come within 0.44 AU of Jupiter in 1921. Jonathan Shanklin's 2005 Comet Prospects page has a prediction that a Jupiter encounter in 2028 will change P/1983 V1's perihelion to 1.22 AU.
      About news yesterday of a probable comet accidentally discovered in September by spectrograph, Tim Spahr tells A/CC that the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) and Minor Planet Center (MPC) were never contacted about this, so "No wonder nobody confirmed the object." (He notes that discoveries can be reported to < cbatmpc [at] cfa . harvard . edu > or < mpc [at] cfa . harvard . edu >, or use the CBAT Web form. "Comets should be reported to both addresses. Minor planets to MPC, everything else to CBAT.")

Namings:  The China government news agency Xinhua reported November 1st that "The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially named asteroid No. 1998CS2 after noted mathematician Shiing-shen Chern (Chen Xingshen) [a decision] which was announced by IAU's Lesser Planets Center last week." New namings were announced last week (see October 27th news), but 29552 Chern (1998 CS2) was named in the late September batch (report). This Main Belter was discovered by the Beijing Schmidt CCD Asteroid Program (SCAP).
      Also in that previous namings batch was 4994 Kisala (1983 RK3), which was discovered by Belgian astronomer Henri Debehogne at La Silla. It was named by the Minor Planet Center for Summer intern Rachel Kisala, as told about in an article October 31st at the Rochester, New York Democrat and Chronicle.

Bits & pieces:  The Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) in Arizona, which last had discoveries announced in August (three), and before that in June (two), is having a good run in November with four NEO discoveries announced yesterday and today. These include two of the four small (absolute magnitude H>22.0) objects announced so far this week. Update: Two more discoveries were announced the next day, including 2004 VZ14, a small object soon posted with impact solutions.
      The Astrometrica November Image of the Month is a demonstration by Peter Birtwhistle of the program's track-and-stack feature. He takes the set of frames used for A/CC's 24 October "cover," which were stacked on small object 2004 TD18 and also has Main Belter 42454 4134 T-3 seen as a faint trail, and restacks the frames on the background stars and then on 42454.



4 November 2004 - Thursday

Comet news:  MPEC 2004-V16 today announces new comet discovery P/2004 V1 (Skiff). Observations by Brian Skiff at LONEOS in Arizona are shown from early today UT, which were linked to observations from LINEAR in New Mexico on October 7th and 18th, and the discovery was soon confirmed from two observing facilities in the U.S. southwest. The first preliminary calculation has perihelion at 1.418 AU on December 8th, just inside the orbit of Mars. has an item from yesterday about what appears to be the accidental discovery of a "16th-magnitude comet" by Sandhya Rao and David Turnshek with a spectrograph on the MMT Observatory 6.5m telescope on Mt. Hopkins in Arizona on 22 September. The discovery was not confirmed "despite calls to other telescopes." See update.

Distant objects:  The Christian Science Monitor has an article today about Lowell Observatory's Deep Ecliptic Survey (DES) that has discovered "roughly half of the 1,000 known" Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt objects (EKBOs). The most recently announced DES discoveries are 2004 TE282 and 2004 TF282, found and confirmed 15-16 October with the 4m Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak in Arizona and announced on the 28th in MPEC 2004-U58.
      New Scientist tells today that the Taiwanese American Occultation Survey (TAOS) "is set to begin in the next few weeks" to search for small EKBOs by watching for stellar occultations. See also March news and a Lawrence Livermore National Lab TAOS page and 7 January 2003 news release.

Meteor news:  India's Ahmedabad Newsline reported October 31st that "Forensic experts and geologists" had gone to the village of Nandgaon in South Gujarat "to ascertain whether a black stone — weighing a kg — which fell in one of the farms, is a meteorite."

Planetary defense: posted yesterday from David Morrison's NEO News E-mail newsletter the text of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) October 2004 position paper (161Kb PDF) on "Protecting Earth from Asteroids and Comets." Among its recommendations: create "an organization within the U.S. government responsible for planetary defense," extend the Spaceguard Survey "to include finding and cataloging 100-m-class NEOs and larger," and have more asteroid missions for research and "to demonstrate our ability to change a NEO’s orbit." This is AIAA's third NEO-threat position paper since 1990, all available from the organization's papers page.

Readings:  The American Enterprise Institute has an interview posted November 1st with three "Space Legends," starting with David Levy, who talks about amateur astronomy and the line between amateurs and professionals. (He mentions that "SOHO, the satellite, has found 500 little cometoids." That number, mostly found by individuals watching over the Internet, just passed 850.) Also interviewed is visionary physicist Freeman Dyson, who says about formal education that he "would like to abolish the Ph.D."



3 November 2004 - Wednesday

Meteor news: has the plain text of an article, "Chip off the red planet," from the 24 October Antarctic Sun PDF edition. It tells about a nakhlite (Mars volcanic rock) found last December by ANSMET, which "collected a record 1,358 meteorites last season [including] a couple new moon rocks and some interesting rocks from asteroids as well."

Crater news:  NASA's Astrobiology Magazine has an article today, "Shiva: Another K-T impact?" Also mentioned are the Boltysh and Silverpit candidate impact structures (see earlier news) and "the Small Point structure off the coast of Maine."

Planetary travels:  Sky & Telescope has a 1 November article about what the Hilda asteroids reveal about the inward migration of Jupiter's orbit "by at least 0.35 a.u., and more likely 0.45 a.u." See also a New Scientist September 26th article. A EurekAlert news item yesterday mentions finding "geologic constraints on the chaotic diffusion of the solar system" and using deep-sea sediments "to extract information about the history of orbital variations for the past ca. 30 million years." See also a 25 October EDP Sciences news release about an article (PDF) on refining Earth's orbital elements and the Geological Time Scale over a period of +/- 250 million years. (This work predicts that an unusual change in the average tilt of Earth's axis by 0.4 degree will bring less obliquity in the "near future.")

Risk monitoring:  NEODyS today posted 2004 VC with impact solutions.



2 November 2004 - Tuesday

Risk monitoring:  JPL today posted 2004 VC with impact solutions.

Rosetta news:  The Rosetta comet mission posted a status report today for the week of 15 to 22 October, "Rosetta Configured For Cruise." It notes that there has been a problem with one of the reaction wheels used for orienting the spacecraft (see also July news, "Bits & pieces").

Comet news:  Comet C/2004 T3 has been named "Siding Spring" according to the titling of IAUC 8425 yesterday, which hasn't been made public yet, and today's object update MPEC 2004-V10. See a short news thread about this distant object.

Editor's note:  I have been fortunate to be able to spend the last 31 months full-time exploring ways to report minor object news and gauging the interest of participants and the public in having news and information from all the usually quite separate fields of minor object science presented together as one large subject. Now I need to get back to making a living, so today A/CC inaugurates a mostly-text news-stack format that allows posting news quickly when time and Internet access permit. Articles will be handled separately from the news stack, and risk monitoring news will now pass through the Consolidated Risk Tables (CRT) page, which continues as A/CC's first priority. (It was one year ago yesterday that A/CC implemented a daily news format, changing from a transitory 14-day news "stack" published since March 2002. The fancier panel format and use of "cover" images began January 1st.) – Bill Allen

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