Organization: Travelers in The Night
Description: Today’s 2 topics:
- On March 7, 2009 the Kepler Space Telescope was inserted into an Earth trailing, 372.5 day, orbit about the Sun. Kepler is designed to stare at more than 145,000 stars simultaneously, in a field of view which is about 1/400 of the sphere of the sky surrounding it.
- Recently my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Richard Kowalski discovered 2017 MB1, a 0.4 mile diameter asteroid with the Catalina Sky Survey Schmidt telescope on Mt. Bigelow, AZ. Two hours and 11 minutes later it came into a set images I obtained with the 60 inch telescope on Mt. Lemmon, AZ.
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.
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373 – Kepler’s Planet
On March 7, 2009 the Kepler Space Telescope was inserted into an Earth trailing, 372.5 day, orbit about the Sun. Kepler is designed to stare at more than 145,000 stars simultaneously, in a field of view which is about 1/400 of the sphere of the sky surrounding it. It’s camera and computer image analysis system is designed to detect the regular small dips in brightness which occur when a planet passes in front of it’s parent star. So far, in the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra, the Kepler mission has found more than 4000 planets circling other stars. These exoplanets include Hot Jupiters, Cold gas giants, Ocean worlds, lava worlds, and rocky planets similar to Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. So far, Kepler has discovered 50 Earth sized planets in habitable zones surrounding their stars where it is possible for them to have liquid water on their surfaces. 30 of these Earth sized planets have been verified by additional observations made by other telescopes. In 2018 the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite called TESS will be launched to look for planets circling 200,000 stars in the solar neighborhood. Dozens of them are likely to be similar to the Earth in size and temperature. The James Webb Space Telescope when it is also launched in 2018 will be able to image these new worlds. All of the worlds which we have found are likely to be the tiniest sample of those which are likely to exist orbiting the hundreds of billions of stars in our Milky Way alone.
374 – Brute
Recently my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Richard Kowalski discovered a 0.4 mile diameter asteroid with the Catalina Sky Survey Schmidt telescope on Mt. Bigelow, AZ. Two hours and 11 minutes later it came into a set images I obtained with the 60 inch telescope on Mt. Lemmon, AZ. After I reported it, the new object was tracked by telescopes in Arizona, New Zealand, Slovenia, Kansas, Australia, Hungary, France, and Brazil. The Minor Planet Center used these data to calculate it’s 1,353 day long orbit around the Sun, estimate it’s size, and give it the name 2017 MB1. Fortunately it will not impact the Earth in the foreseeable future. An object the size of 2017 MB1 strikes the Earth every 200,000 years or so releasing the energy of about 300 large hydrogen bombs. It’s impact onto a land area could produce a crater 6 miles in diameter, a fire storm that would ignite vegetation, clouds of toxic dust, acid rain, and produce other ill effects. If 2017 MB1 landed in the middle of the ocean it would make a splash that would send up billions of tons of water into the atmosphere and create waves 1,200 feet high which would quickly dissipate and would be no threat to land many miles away.
Asteroid hunters will continue to track 2017 MB1 as it passes near Venus, Earth, our Moon, and Mars to make sure that it’s orbit does not change to make it a threat to the residents off our planet.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
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