Organization: Travelers in The Night
Description: Today’s 2 topics:
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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415 – Well Done
Once every 1,435 days , a 780 foot diameter space rock that my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Carson Fuls discovered makes an annihilation defying close approach to our star. At it’s nearest point to the Sun, Carson’s well done space rock is traveling at an amazing 93 miles per second and receives 26 times the amount of solar radiation that heats the surface of the planet Mercury to 800F. After Carson first discovered his heat resistant space rock traveling towards it’s next hot date with the Sun, it was observed by telescopes in New Mexico, Arizona, Hawaii, and England. These data allowed scientists at the Minor Planet Center to calculate it’s orbit around the Sun, estimate it’s size, and give it the name 2017 TC1. 2017 TC1 crosses the orbits of Mars, Earth, Venus, and Mercury and can come relatively close to Jupiter on it’s extremely elliptical orbit around the Sun. It is possible that in the very distant past the giant planet Jupiter’s pull on 2017 TC1 sent it on it’s current path around the Sun. In September of 2021, 2017 TC1 will once again be bright enough for asteroid hunters to track as it makes another close approach to our Sun. At this time astronomers with be able to measure the pattern of colors that 2017 TC1 reflects which will reveal it’s surface chemical composition. Until then we are left to wonder how it is possible for a space rock to survive on such a harrowing path.
416 – Odd Ball
The orbits of the planets are closely aligned with the extension of the Sun’s equator into space and are contained within the flattened disk of material which forms the plane solar system. Most asteroids have orbits with inclinations or tilts to the solar system’s plane which are less than 20 degrees. Thus, when my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Rose Matheny discovered a small space rock which soars into the lonely space high above and below our solar system’s plane, it got our attention. As with all of our asteroid discoveries, Rose had no idea of what kind of object she had discovered with our Schmidt Telescope on Mt. Bigelow, Arizona until it had been tracked by observers around the world. The Minor Planet Center used the data from 14 different telescopes to calculate an orbit, estimate a size, and give the new object the name, 2017 TF4. Rose’s odd ball near Earth Apollo asteroid discovery , 2017 TF4, has an orbit which is tilted by 60 degrees to the plane of our solar system. It’s inclination or tilt is greater than 99.5% of the other 8,000 known Earth approaching Apollo asteroids. 2017 TF4, Rose’s 260 foot diameter discovery orbits the Sun at about the same distance as the Earth once every 414 days. Perhaps as asteroid hunters discover additional small objects with orbits similar to Rose’s discovery we will be able to trace them back to when they were created by a catastrophic collision long ago.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
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365 Days of Astronomy
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