Programs 511-540



511-Geomagnetic Storms


To Be Published
 


512-Aten 
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Published November 10 , 2018
Recorded 
November 3, 2018

While observing in the constellation of Persus with the Catalina Sky Survey's 60 inch telescope on Mt. Lemmon a fast moving point of light appeared in one of my sets of images.  It was subsequently tracked by telescopes in Arizona, Croatia, Illinois, Hawaii, Ukraine, and Italy.  Scientists at the Minor Planet Center used these data to calculate its 303 day long orbital period about the Sun, estimate its diameter to be 174 feet, and give it the name 2018 UY1.  This space rock is classified as an Aten asteroid since it crosses the Earth's orbit twice a year on a path on which it spends most of its time closer to the Sun than we are.  Atens are relatively rare and account for only 7.4 % of the known Earth approaching asteroids.  15 days after I discovered it, 2018 UY1 came to about seven and half times the Moon's distance from us traveling at 5 mi/sec.  Although, currently, 2018 UY1 can never come closer than about 3.2 lunar distances from the surface of Earth, one of its size strikes the Earth every 540 years or so releasing the energy of 500 kilotons of TNT. Many of the 1,300 Atens are classified as potentially hazardous.  Asteroid hunters need to be vigilant so that an Aten asteroid doesn't sneak up on us.  These stealthy space rocks can be dim and hard to detect since for most of their path about the Sun since their illuminated side is facing away from us. 

For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
Go to travelersinthenight.org program 512 for more information.
© 2018 A. D. Grauer and ℗ 2018 A. D. Grauer


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513-Mtn Ops

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November 16 , 2018
Recorded 
 November 3, 2018

My team, the Catalina Sky Survey, would not find a single asteroid without Steward Observatory's Mountain Lemmon Operations, or Mtn Ops for short.  The Mtn Ops crew of of 6 maintains the Mt. Lemmon and Mt. Bigelow sites which are the home of 9 hard working telescopes.  In the winter the Mtn Ops crew plows snow and keeps ice on the domes from shutting us down.   Every summer they do major maintenance and up grades including putting fresh coats of aluminum on the telescope's mirrors on a regular schedule.  When a telescope quits working or a dome gets stuck in the middle of night one of the Mtn Ops crew comes out to get us back on the sky again.  High speed internet communications is central to asteroid hunting and would not function without the Mtn Ops Crew's regular attention.  The crew also maintains the site utilities including water, telephone, and emergency power generators.  When a storm packing 80 mph winds hit,  the Mtn Ops crew sharpened up their chainsaws and cleared a mile and a half of road so we could get to the telescopes.   When a wild ring tailed cat got into one of our telescope domes, Mtn Ops caught it in a live trap and took it to another place on the mountain and released it. Skunks can be particularly unpleasant when Mtn Ops chases them out of a building.  Bottom line is that Mtn Ops does whatever it takes to make our Asteroid Hunting facilities continue to function.

For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
Go to travelersinthenight.org program 513 for more information.
© 2018 A. D. Grauer and ℗ 2018 A. D. Grauer


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514-Close Space Rocks

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Published November 18 , 2018
Recorded 
November 3, 2018

The closest passage by a non-impacting space rock was made by the tiny asteroid 2011 CQ1.  It was discovered by my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Richard Kowalski, on February 4, 2011, while he was observing in the constellation of Cancer with our Schmidt telescope on Mt. Bigelow, Arizona.  Twelve hours after Richard discovered it 2011 CQ1 passed 3,410 miles above the Earth's surface traveling at 6 miles per second.  If this five and a half foot diameter space rock had entered the Earth's atmosphere, it would have produced a brilliant fireball meteor explosion.  As luck would have it 2011 CQ1 missed.  However, its  438 day orbit was drastically changed to a new 279 day path about the Sun, which crosses the orbits of both Venus and the Earth.  Astronomers estimate that several dozen asteroids between 20 and 40 feet in diameter pass closer to the Moon, from us, every year.  In the past most of them slipped by undetected, but currently asteroid hunters are finding several such close approaching space rocks every month. Most of them are tiny,  however, since 1900 there have been 11close misses by asteroids larger than 300 feet in diameter.  One of them, the Tunguska Object was about 400 feet in diameter. It entered the Earth's atmosphere and exploded with such force that it blew down trees over an 800 square mile area in 1908. Hopefully that will not happen again anytime soon.

For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
Go to travelersinthenight.org program 514 for more information.
© 2018 A. D. Grauer and ℗ 2018 A. D. Grauer


More information on this Program




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