Podcaster: Dr. Al Grauer
Title: Travelers in the Night Eps. 109E & 110E: Three Is A Mystery & This Comet Will Never Return
Organization: Travelers in The Night
Description: Today’s 2 topics:
- We discovered three asteroids whose orbits are similar enough to grab one’s attention. However, they different enough to keep us from jumping to the conclusion that they are part of an asteroid collision fragment family.
- Unlike Halley’s comet which returns to our neighborhood once about every 76 years, Comet C2013 US10/Catalina will pass this way once never to return.
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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109E: Three Is A Mystery
Joe Leaphorn, Tony Hillerman’s famous Navajo Police Detective was fond of stating his belief that there is no such thing as a coincidence. Is the same point of view valid when one is confronted with an asteroid hunting mystery?
Within a time span of one and a half hours, the two telescopes of the NASA funded, University of Arizona, Catalina Sky Survey, discovered three asteroids whose orbits are similar enough to grab one’s attention. However, they different enough to keep us from jumping to the conclusion that they are part of an asteroid collision fragment family.
The three Earth approaching asteroids in question are all about 30 feet in diameter and have similar eccentric orbits around the Sun. On the other hand their orbital periods around the Sun differ by more than 100 days which means that unless they broke up fairly recently they would not still be together. There is no evidence for such a fragment producing breakup.
There are more than 30 families of asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter. These groups have apparently been produced by collisions. The Sloan Digital Survey in New Mexico has measured the positions brightnesses, and colors of more than 100,000 asteroids which have been used to make a beautiful movie. It is called “Painted Stone” and was created by Dr. Alex Parker of the Tucson, Arizona based Southwest Research Institute. Check it out and see asteroid families for yourself.
There has been some speculation about the possibility of killer asteroid swarms which threaten the Earth. There is no evidence to support these ideas.
110E: This Comet Will Never Return
Unlike Halley’s [h AE – l ee ] comet which returns to our neighborhood once about every 76 years, Comet C2013 US10/Catalina will pass this way once never to return.
This strange object was discovered by my Catalina Sky Survey teammate, Richard Kowalski in 2013. He discovered it as a faint, tiny, moving point of light in the night sky when it was 930 million miles away from planet Earth and was traveling at 16 miles per second in our direction.
All during 2014 and most of 2015, Comet C2013 US10/Catalina accelerated under the relentless pull of the Sun’s gravity. On October 16, 2015 it will cross the Earth’s orbit, 16 million miles from us, and may be bright enough to see in a small telescope or binoculars. A month later it will be at its closest point to the Sun and be traveling 29 miles per second relative to it. By mid December of 2015 Kowalski’s comet will be moving away from the Sun and be visible to us. Seiichi Yoshida has predicted its brightness and has charts on where to look for it in the night sky on his www.aerith.net, website. In 2028 Kowalski’s comet will pass Pluto’s average distance from the Sun. After that it will continue to move away from the Sun, become an interstellar traveler in the night, and perhaps some day a countless number of human lifetimes from now become a comet in another solar system.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
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