Podcaster: Dr. Al Grauer
Title: Travelers in the Night Eps. 49 & 50: Earth Approaching Wannabees & Asteroid 2014 JO25-What An Incredible Ride
Organization: Travelers in The Night
Organization: Travelers in The Night
Description: Today’s 2 topics:
- During the same 6-night observing session as last week, Dr. Grauer determined that 14 of the 29 objects had “help” getting into weird orbits.
- The same asteroid as we talked about last week crossed the Earth’s orbit on February 10, 2014, at which time it was traveling at 38 miles per second relative relative to our planet. No one on Earth saw it streak by even though it was bright enough for us to detect.
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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37E – 49 – Earth Approaching Space Rocks Collected Over 6 Nights
During a recent 6 night observing run with the NASA funded Catalina Sky Survey 60 inch telescope on Mt. Lemmon, I found 29 Earth Approaching Asteroid candidates. With further observations, sixteen of these turned out to be real asteroids which in fact do not make close approaches to Earth. They range in size from about 5 football fields to nearly a mile in diameter.
One of the more interesting objects in this group of space rocks is 2014 JS2. It is classified as a main belt asteroid and orbits the Sun every 3.7 years. It is slightly less than a mile in diameter. Its orbit is inclined by about 40 degrees to the plane where most of the objects in the solar system travel as they orbit the Sun. This suggests that 2014 JS2 had a close approach or even a collision with another object to put it in its current path.
Another interesting object in this group is 2014 JA. It is a Mars crossing asteroid which orbits the Sun every 2.36 years. Its orbit is inclined 24 degrees to the plane of the solar system.
The other 14 asteroids in this group all have orbital inclinations of 20 degrees or more from the plane of the solar system. This indicates that they were placed on their current paths by an interaction with some other object.
Even though the solar system objects are generally separated by large distances, this group of Earth Approaching Asteroid Wannabees suggests that collisions between asteroids have occurred during the 4.6 billion year history of the solar system.
38E – 50 – Large Dangerous Asteroids Still Appear Suddenly Without Warning
On September 26, 2012, unbeknownst to the human race, a 1/2 mile diameter asteroid reached it farthest distance from the Sun. It was 3/4 of the way from the Sun to the planet Jupiter.
Throughout 2013 this asteroid accelerated under the relentless pull of the Sun’s gravity. It crossed the Earth’s orbit on February 10, 2014 at which time it was traveling at 38 miles per second relative relative to our planet. No one on Earth saw it streak by even though it was bright enough for us to detect.
On March 21, 2014 this asteroid made it closest approach to the Sun and was traveling at 84 miles per second. On this day it received 16 times the solar energy that falls on our planet and probably had a surface temperature greater than 800 F.
As it approached the Earth’s orbit , this Potentially Hazardous Asteroid literally came out of nowhere as it brightened 250 times in 15 days. On May 5, 2014, the NASA funded Catalina Sky Survey 60 inch telescope on Mt. Lemmon, AZ detected it. It was the fastest brightest asteroid I had ever seen.
After 3 days of intensive observing by telescopes all over the world it was given the name 2014 JO25. It will reappear in about 3 years as it orbits the Sun. Fortunately, its orbit never brings it closer than about 4 times the distance to our Moon. We will need to keep track of it since the situation may change as it encounters other objects in space.