Podcaster: Dr. Al Grauer
Title: Travelers in the Night Eps. 83E & 84E: Phantom Meteor Shower & Target Asteroids
Organization: Travelers in The Night
Description: Today’s 2 topics:
- Comet Blanpain was discovered in 1819 and was described as having a small confused nucleus. It was lost a few months after its discovery and pronounced dead.
- Target Asteroids provides an opportunity for students to participate in real scientific research and to have a chance to discover and name an asteroid.
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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83E: Phantom Meteor Shower
Comet Blanpain was discovered in 1819 and was described as having a small confused nucleus. It was lost a few months after its discovery and pronounced dead. It 1956 a meteor outburst was observed by the crew of a Japanese expedition ship on its way to the Antarctic. This intense meteor shower seemed to be unrelated to any other and became known as the phantom meteor shower. More than a decade ago, Catalina Sky Survey observers discovered what appeared to be an unknown Earth approaching asteroid, 2003 WY25. Recently these seemingly unconnected observations have been shown in all likelihood to be manifestations of the same object.
The linkage between these various sightings became apparent by observations of asteroid 2003 WY25 by astronomers at the University of Hawaii and the Pan-STARRS group. These data showed this asteroid to have a coma of gas around it making likely to be a piece of long lost comet Blanpain.
This unusual object orbits the Sun with a period of 5 and a half years. Sometimes it can come within 1.6 million miles of Earth while at other times it is out near the planet Jupiter. Perhaps its encounter with Jupiter in 1817 has produced some of its strange behavior.
One of the original members of the 1956 Japanese Antarctic expedition, now 91, is planning to travel to the Canary Islands to hopefully witness another meteor shower created by this object.
84E: Target Asteroids
Many scientists have been started on their career paths by an interest in astronomy and the mysteries of space. As technology has developed it has become more difficult for students to be involved in hands-on scientific research.
Target Asteroids provides an opportunity for students to participate in real scientific research and to have a chance to discover and name an asteroid.
The Catalina Sky Survey and the Pan-STARRS group will take professional quality astronomical images of near Earth asteroids as they orbit the Sun.
Students will be given the first opportunity to research this source of unique scientific data.
Astronomers with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration and the OSIRIS-REx Target Asteroids team will provide a site license for the Astrometrica software the students will need.The International Astronomical Search Collaboration website also has some training material.
High School and college students will measure the position and brightness objects in space from these images. These data will allow the OSIRIS-REx science team to determine some of the physical properties of objects which come near and very rarely collide with planet Earth.
In addition the students will measure the position and brightness of other asteroids on each image. By comparing their position measurements with the data base of known asteroids they will be able to discover and name some of these small worlds which orbit our Sun. Their discoveries will be reported to the Minor Planet Center where they will be transmitted to the rest of the world via electronic circulars.
Outer space is not far, it just takes a lot of energy to get there.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
End of podcast:
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