Podcaster: Dr. Al Grauer


Title: Travelers in the Night Eps. 213E & 214E: Greg Scores & Cosmic Campground

Organization: Travelers in The Night

Link : Travelers in the Night ; @Nmcanopus

Description: Today’s two stroy:

  • My Catalina Sky Survey team mate Greg Leonard finds an interesting potentially hazardous asteroid.Since asteroid hunter’s main concern are the large space rocks which we don’t know about, my team the Catalina Sky Survey continues to scan the skies 24 nights per month using two telescopes located in the Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona.
  • The Cosmic Campground is one of the last places where one can experience the natural night sky in the lower 48.

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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213E – Greg Scores 

The Congress of the United States has directed NASA to find and catalog asteroids which pose a possible threat to planet Earth. My team the Catalina Sky Survey is part of that effort. Particular attention is paid to objects which are large enough and come close enough to bear watching. Asteroid hunters have discovered nearly 1,700 of these potentially hazardous asteroids. Recently my newest teammate Greg Leonard discovered one to add to the list. When Greg became the first human to spot 2016 BE1 it was 24 million miles from planet Earth and was moving away from him at 4.3 miles per second. About 5 weeks earlier when it was nearest to us it was too dim to be seen as it approached the Earth from the direction of the Sun. During its 2016 close approach 2016 BE1 was bright enough to be detected for about 4 months out of its 40 month trip around the Sun.

Greg’s new space rock is nearly a thousand feet in diameter. One its size strikes the Earth every 75,000 years or so creating a crater 3 miles in diameter and devastation over a hurricane sized foot print on our planet. Fortunately Greg’s new object never comes closer than about twelve and a half times the Moon’s distance from us.

There are likely to be 10,000 or more Earth approaching asteroids the size of 2016 BE1.Since asteroid hunter’s main concern are the large space rocks which we don’t know about, my team the Catalina Sky Survey continues to scan the skies 24 nights per month using two telescopes located in the Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona.

214E – Cosmic Campground

On a mesa within the Gila National Forest the Cosmic Campground is in one of the last areas of natural night sky in the lower 48. It’s location between the Gila Wilderness and the Blue Range Primitive Area in southwestern New Mexico features a 360 degree view of the night sky at elevation of 5,300 feet above sea level. The climate at the site is dry with many clear nights. These attributes and the absence of artificial light pollution has prompted the International Dark Sky Association to designate the Cosmic Campground as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary. The only other site in the world so designated is the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile which is the home of a world class astronomical research complex.

Ann Grauer of the Friends of the Cosmic Campground sums up well the motivation for seeking the International Dark Sky Association designation “We are honored to help preserve and protect this small, dark place for present and future generations to connect with their inherent fascination and attraction to our night sky.”

At the Cosmic Campground your dark adapted eyes, binoculars, and/or a telescope will put you in direct personal contact with the wonders of a natural night sky. One of the most spectacular sights I have been fortunate to experience is the Milky Way rising over the Gila wilderness at the Cosmic Campground. Visit the Cosmic Campground to see the Milky Way, star clusters, faint galaxies, the zodiacal light, and many other wonders of the natural night sky for yourself.

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

End of podcast:

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