Organization: Travelers in The Night
Description: Today’s 2 topics:
- Richard Kowalsky discovered 7 new close approaching asteroid
- Al Grauer discovered comet C/2018 F1 (Grauer), the Saint Patrick’s Day Comet which will be close to us next year.
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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449 – Cloud 7
To give you an idea of the asteroid traffic in our neighborhood, on a mostly cloudy night, through holes in the clouds, in a space of less than 2 hours, my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Richard Kowalski posted 7 new close approaching asteroid discoveries on the Minor Planet Center’s Near Earth Object Confirmation Page. The six which received followup observations from telescopes around the globe range in size from 43 to 394 feet in diameter and travel about the Sun with orbital periods between 275 and 960 days in duration. Eight days earlier, one of them had been imaged, but went unnoticed, by our primary asteroid hunting competitor, the PanSTARRS group, in Hawaii. Only one of Richard’s discoveries was lost due to the cloudy weather which prevented it from being tracked long enough to enable astronomers to clearly define it’s path around the Sun. About a week after Richard discovered the smallest of the six, 2018 ED9, this 43 foot diameter space rock passed about two times the Earth-Moon distance from both the Earth and our Moon. 2018 ED9 is smaller than the Chelyabinsk (Shell Ya Binsk) meteor whose atmospheric explosion injured nearly 1,500 people in Russia in February of 2013. One the size of 2018 ED9 enters the Earth’s atmosphere every 23 years or so, bursts into a cloud of fragments at an altitude of 88,000 feet, and produces a loud boom and a light show.
450 – Saint Patrick’s Day Comet
On Saint Patrick’s Day, while searching for Earth approaching asteroids with the Catalina Sky Survey’s 60 inch telescope on Mt. Lemmon, Arizona I spotted a slightly enlarged star like object with a tiny tail moving through the constellation of Virgo. After checking to see that it was not a known comet, I sent my discovery observations along with a description of it’s coma and tail to the Minor Planet Center. Turns out that it had been observed as a moving point of light, but not noticed to be a comet, by the PanSTARRS group in Hawaii 3 month’s earlier. Given the PanSTARRS historical observations along with those from other observatories around the world it only took scientists at the Minor Planet Center 2 days of additional observations to verify it to be a newly discovered comet. Since the naming rules state that a comet should be named after the first observer that identified it to be a comet it was given the C/2018 F1 (Grauer). In December of 2018 and July of 2019 Comet C/2018 F1 (Grauer), which I share with my wife Annie Grauer, will be closest to Earth on it’s 5,555 year orbital path about our Sun. Unfortunately it is not likely to be visible to the unaided eye, appearing only as faint moving comet in the night sky on electronic camera images, leaving us to speculate on the condition of humanity when Comet C/2018 F1 (Grauer) returns in the year 7573 AD.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by Planetary Science Institute. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. This year we will celebrates the Year of Everyday Astronomers as we embrace Amateur Astronomer contributions and the importance of citizen science. Join us and share your story. Until tomorrow! Goodbye!