Podcaster: Dr. Al Grauer


Title: Travelers in the Night Eps. 633 & 634: Dress Rehearsal & Meteor Goes Splat

Organization: Travelers in The Night

Link : Travelers in the Night ; @Nmcanopus

Description: Today’s two stroy:

  • Teddy Pruyne discovered 10’ diameter 2020 XK1.
  • On 28 February 2021 at 9:54PM a large slow moving fireball carbonaceous chondrite meteor landed in the village of Winchcombe in the Cotswolds.

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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633: Dress Rehearsal

The situation that asteroid hunters both train for and dread is the discovery of a large space rock on a collision course with planet Earth. Recently we got a chance to practice on a small harmless space rock that eventually zipped past us. It all started when my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Teddy Pruyne came across a fast moving object in the constellation of Pisces while he was observing with our 60 inch telescope on Mt. Lemmon, Arizona. When Teddy reported his observations to the Minor Planet Center the NASA Scout early warning software system sent out an alert when it recognized that this new object would pass very close to Earth.

Next Carson Fuls who was operating our 40 inch follow up telescope began to track Teddy’s discovery. After that the ATLAS: The Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System in Hawaii was able to find this small space rock in their images. Scientists used all of these data to calculate this objects path through space, estimate it to be about 10 feet in diameter, and give it the name 2020 XK1. 15 hours and 38 minutes after Teddy first spotted it this small space rock passed about one Earth diameter above the surface of our planet traveling at 5 miles per second. Thirteen hours and 4 minutes after that 2020 XK1 came to about 85,000 miles of the lunar surface. About once a month a small space rock like 2020 Xk1 enters the Earth’s atmosphere, creates a super fireball meteor, bursts into a cloud of fragments at 135,000 feet, and rains fragments of itself onto the ground for meteorite hunters to discover.  

634: Meteor Goes Splat

On 28 February 2021 at 9:54PM a large 

slow moving fireball meteor was observed over England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.  More than 1100 eyewitnesses reported their observations to the American Meteor Society who listed them under Event 1202-2021 on their website.  This spectacular bolide fireball was recorded by the all sky cameras operated by the United Kingdom Meteor Observation Network and by numerous dash and security cameras.  These observations allowed scientists  to identify the village of Winchcombe in the Cotswolds as the probable impact location.  

One of the Winchcombe meteorites hit a driveway in this town making a mark like that from a black paint ball gun several feet in diameter.  Fragments totaling more than 300 g or 10.5 ounces of an extremely rare carbonaceous chondrite meteorite have been recovered.  Of the more than 65,000 meteorites which  have been discovered on the Earth’s surface only 51 are of them are carbonaceous chondrites which have been seen falling from the sky.  This type of rare meteorite is made up of minerals and organic compounds including amino acids.  The Wichcombe meteorite is particularly valuable since it was found less than 12 hours after it fell leaving its interior untouched by contamination from its terrestrial surroundings.  A comparison of the Winchcombe meteorite with samples bought back by the JAXA Hayabusa-2 and the OSIRIS-REx space missions will provide new clues about the origin of life on our planet .

For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.

End of podcast:

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