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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433 – Tiniest Space Rock
My Catalina Sky Survey teammate Rose Matheny gets the prize for the smallest of the 987 Earth approaching objects our team discovered in 2017. When Rose first spotted 2017 UL6, her 4 foot 6 inch diameter baby space rock, it was 478,000 miles away in the constellation of Pisces traveling in our direction at 4.5 miles per second. Thirty hours later it safely passed less than 2 Earth diameters from the surface of our home planet. Four hours after that it was too dim for asteroid hunters to track as it continued to move away from the Earth with it dark side facing us. According to the Purdue University and Imperial College of London’s Impact calculator an asteroid the size of Rose’s discovery, 2017 UL6, enters the Earth’s atmosphere about once a year, has an energy equivalent to several thousand pounds of TNT, and bursts into a cloud of fragments at an altitude of about 120,000 feet. If it is made out of dense rock it not make a crater, however, some sizable pieces are likely to reach the Earth’s surface. If you witnessed it’s impact at night it would produce a fireball meteor and perhaps a loud booming sound. In 2017 our team found four other small asteroids less than 10 feet in diameter which passed even closer to us than Rose’s baby space rock. 2018 may be the year when asteroid hunter’s find a small space rock on a collision course with Earth.
434 – Biggest Space Rock
My Catalina Sky Survey teammate Carson Fuls wins the prize for finding the largest of the 987 Earth approaching asteroids which our team discovered in 2017. When Carson first spotted his discovery, this huge space rock was a relatively faint point of light, 123 million miles away, moving in the constellation of Leo Minor. It was tracked by asteroid hunters for 95 hours. Scientists at the Minor Planet Center were able to calculate it’s orbit around the Sun, estimate it’s size to be 3,250 feet in diameter, and give it the name 2017 DO36. Fortunately on it’s current path 2017 DO36 never gets closer to the Earth than about 75 times the Moon’s distance from us. An asteroid it’s size strikes the Earth every 500,000 years or so creating a crater 8 miles in diameter and 2,100 feet deep in sedimentary rock. If it struck in water, 2,000 feet deep, 62 miles from the shore line, an asteroid the size of 2017 DO36 would create a Tsunami 300 feet high. Carson’s huge space rock, 2017 DO36, has a surface area of 770 acres enough for a small space ranch. Perhaps when it comes to about 75 times the Moon’s distance in 2183 and 2190 humans will visit it for it’s water and mineral content.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
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365 Days of Astronomy
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