Podcaster: Dr. Al Grauer


Title: Travelers in the Night Eps. 629 & 630: Loneliest Asteroid & Largest Asteroid

Organization: Travelers in The Night

Link : Travelers in the Night ; @Nmcanopus

Description: David Rankin discovered 2020 CY1 in Canes Venatici and 2020 UP3 in Hercules.

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.

Today’s sponsor:  Big thanks to our Patreon supporters this month: Rob Leeson, David Bowes, Brett Duane, Benett Bolek, Mary Ann, Frank Frankovic, Michael Freedman, Kim Hay, Steven Emert, Frank Tippin, Rani Bush, Jako Danar, Joseph J. Biernat, Nik Whitehead, Michael W, Cherry Wood, Steve Nerlich, Steven Kluth, James K Wood, Katrina Ince, Phyllis Foster, Don Swartwout, Barbara Geier, Steven Jansen, Donald Immerwahr

Please consider sponsoring a day or two. Just click on the “Donate” button on the lower left side of this webpage, or contact us at

Or please visit our Patreon page:


629: Loneliest Asteroid

My Catalina Sky Survey teammate David Rankin was asteroid hunting in the constellation of Canes Venatici with our 60 inch telescope on Mt. Lemmon, AZ when he found our teams loneliest asteroid of 2020.  Imagine riding on David’s 200 foot diameter space rock discovery, 2020 CY1, as it travels on its 5.6 year long orbit about the Sun.   Your most impressive sight would occur as 2020 CY1 travels to a point more than 450 million miles above the plane of the solar system which contains all of the planets and most of the asteroids.  

From this lofty perch the Sun shines 30 times fainter than it does on Earth and the planets and asteroids can be seen to travel about the Sun in an orderly procession.  From this furthest point above the plane of the solar system, 2020 CY1 begins its plunge towards the inner solar system.  After crossing the plane of the solar system 2020 CY1 travels to a point 56 million miles below the plane of the solar system before rounding the Sun, crossing the plane of the solar system, and starting its 5.6 year long orbit once again.  

2020 CY1 came relatively close to Earth in 1942 and 2020 and will come to less than 5 lunar distances from us in 2126.  Studies of asteroids with orbits similar to 2020 CY1 show they tend to be made of tough rocky materials and likely are the result of a collision long ago. The possibility of a tough lonely unknown asteroid with our number on it  keeps asteroid hunters scanning the sky. 

630: Largest Asteroid

My Catalina Sky Survey teammate David Rankin was asteroid hunting in the constellation of Hercules when he spotted a fast moving point of light streaking through the night sky 159 million miles from Earth. Observations from telescopes in Arizona, Hawaii and Tican allowed scientists to calculate the new objects 4.57 year long orbit about the Sun, estimate its size to be 3400 feet in diameter, and give it the name 2020 UP3. David’s discovery is only one of three Earth approaching asteroids discovered in 2020 which is larger than 1 km in diameter.

NASA is especially interested in these very large asteroids since the impact of a 1 km or greater diameter asteroid is likely to produce global climate change. So far scientists estimate that asteroid hunters have discovered more than 90% of the Earth approaching asteroids larger than 1 km in diameter. The ones yet to be discovered are probably in rather unusual orbits. In this case, 2020 UP3 has an orbit which is inclined 49 degrees relative to the plane of the solar system. Asteroids with this type of highly inclined orbit are made of tough materials and are likely the result of a catastrophic collision long ago. Fortunately David’s discovery, on its present orbit, never comes closer than 72 times the Moon’s distance from us. Rest assured that astronomers will continue to track 2020 UP3 as it comes near to Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter to make sure its orbit does not change to make it a threat to planet Earth.

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 and wizzard media. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. 

This show is made possible thanks to the generous donations of people like you! Please consider supporting to our show on and get access to bonus content. 

After 10 years, the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast is entering its second decade of sharing important milestone in space exploration and astronomy discoveries. Join us and share your story. Until tomorrow! Goodbye!