Nov 12th: No Need To Smile & Carson’s Comet


Podcaster: Dr. Al Grauer
Travelers in the Night Digest:  339 & 340: No Need To Smile & Carson’s Comet

Organization: Travelers in The Night

Link : Travelers in the Night ; @Nmcanopus

Description: Today’s 2 topics:

  • The company called Planet has launched a fleet of tiny so-called Dove Satellites that can do Earth observations continuously for corporate clients.
  • Carson Fuls has discovered his first comet! C2017 D1 (Fuls) is a part of the Jupiter family and was discovered by Carson at Mt. Lemmon Observatory.

Bio: Dr. Al Grauer is currently an observing member of the Catalina Sky Survey Team at the University of Arizona.  This group has discovered nearly half of the Earth approaching objects known to exist. He received a PhD in Physics in 1971 and has been an observational Astronomer for 43 years. He retired as a University Professor after 39 years of interacting with students. He has conducted research projects using telescopes in Arizona, Chile, Australia, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Georgia with funding from NSF and NASA.

He is noted as Co-discoverer of comet P/2010 TO20 Linear-Grauer, Discoverer of comet C/2009 U5 Grauer and has asteroid 18871 Grauer named for him.

Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by — no one. We still need sponsors for many days in 2017, so please consider sponsoring a day or two. Just click on the “Donate” button on the lower left side of this webpage, or contact us at

339 – No Need to Smile
The company Planet’s, Dove satellites may not be spot you looking up, smiling, and waving when you are in the great outdoors but they could detect a car in your driveway.

Recently, the Indian Space Research Organization launched a rocket which orbited 88 of the San Francisco based company’s Dove satellites bringing the total of the small imaging platforms orbiting the Earth to 149. This constellation of satellites is capable of imaging the Earth’s entire land mass every day and so far has more than 100 clients. Each Dove satellite is 4 inches by 4 inches by 12 inches in length, width, and height, weighs about 10 lbs, and can resolve surface details on planet Earth down to 10 to 17 feet in size. Agricultural producers and economists will be able to follow the US corn crop on a daily basis throughout the growing season. Emergency personnel dealing with fires and floods will be able to take action using the best available information. Urban planners and transportation planners will be able to observe daily changes in suburbs, inner cities, shopping centers, and more . Environmental scientists will be able to keep track of changes in forestation, marshes, and other important environmental assets. These are but a few of the uses for daily images of the Earth’s land surface.

It is likely that the company Planet’s, Dove satellite’s daily images will have a positive influence things you count on and hopefully will not have a significant negative impact on your privacy.

340 – Carson’s Comet
My team was excited when our Catalina Sky Survey teammate Carson Fuls discovered his first comet, C/2017 D1 (Fuls), when it was traveling between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter about 257 million miles from Earth. It is classified as a Jupiter Family Comet and orbits the Sun once every ten and a half years on a path that keeps it hundreds of million miles from both the Earth and Sun. It is likely that Carson’s comet originally had an orbit out in the Kuiper belt far beyond Pluto. Comet Fuls was directed into our vicinity when its original path was changed by a collision with another object or perhaps because of the gravitational tug of passing star. A Jupiter family comet like Carson’s orbit is unstable due to the gravitational pulls of the planets especially the giant Jupiter. For example, in 1767 an object passed near to Jupiter as it approached the Sun from the outer solar system. The giant planet’s gravity slung this small ice ball in a direction that caused it to miss the Earth by only a million miles three years later. As it made its very close approach to Earth humans gave it the name Comet Lexell. In 1779, after making two trips around the Sun, Comet Lexell once again passed near Jupiter. This time its gravity flung Comet Lexell completely out of the solar system. This actual event leads us to suspect that Carson’s comet’s ultimate fate will be to collide with a planet or be ejected from the solar system.

For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.

End of podcast:

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