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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477 – Hannes’s Discoveries
Recently, my newest Catalina Sky Survey Teammate, Hannes Groeller, had an excellent training night, working with Greg Leonard, on our 60 inch telescope on Mt. Lemmon, Az posting 14 new objects on the Near Earth Object Confirmation Page. Subsequent observations proved nine of them to be new Earth Approaching Objects and another to be a 7.5 mile diameter Trans-Neptunian object whose 8,805 year orbit carries it from between Mars and Jupiter to the outer reaches of the solar system and back again. One Hannes’s discoveries, 2018 KB1, is classified as being potentially hazardous because of it’s size even though on it’s current path it never comes closer than 11.4 times the distance to our Moon. 2018 KB1’s closest approach in the near future is in 2033 at which point human rockets could reach it in only 45 days. If a relatively small asteroid like Hannes’s discovery, 2018 KB1, has a chemical composition similar to the stony meteorites it would fetch 26 billion dollars on the iron scrap metal market in China. It’s value as a source of building materials in space would be much greater than that since the cost of lifting iron from the Earth’s surface is many times it’s value on the scrap market. In the very near future humans are likely to be building homes in space, on the Moon, and on Mars and be looking to asteroids as a source of raw materials.
478 – Comet Leonard III
My Catalina Sky Survey teammate Greg Leonard knew he had bagged his third comet when he spotted an unknown fuzzy object with a broad tail moving through the constellation of Pieces. For 17 days after Greg posted his discovery observations on the Minor Planet Center’s Near Earth Object Confirmation Page, his new comet was imaged and tracked by observers at 11 different sites around the world. Scientists at the Minor Planet Center used these data to calculate it’s path about the Sun and give it the name Comet P/2018 L5 (Leonard). The new comet Leonard orbits the Sun between the paths of Jupiter and Mars once every 6 years and it is giving off gases as it is being warmed by the Sun. It is similar to Comet 2P/Encke which has 3 mile diameter nucleus and is likely to be responsible for the Taurid meteor showers. Greg’s Comet’ s nucleus could be a mile or so in diameter, will probably continue to remain faint in electronic camera images, and is not likely to produce meteor showers. Comet P/2018 L5 (Leonard) is likely to have formed in the distant Oort Cloud, caused to move towards the Sun by the nudge of a passing star, and placed in it’s current orbit by an encounter with Jupiter in the relatively recent past. Eventually when it looses it’s volatile materials Comet Leonard will become one of the countless millions of main belt asteroids circling our Sun.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
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365 Days of Astronomy
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