Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Comet: C/2014 N3 (NEOWISE)

Cbet nr. 3921, issued on 2014, July 13, announces the discovery of a comet (~ magnitude 17) by the  Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (or NEOWISE; formerly the WISE satellite) team on images taken with the NEOWISE satellite on 2014, July 04.5. The new comet has been designated C/2014 N3 (NEOWISE).

We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 10 unfiltered exposures, 60-sec each, obtained remotely on 2014, July 09.6 from Q62 (iTelescope network - Siding Spring) through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + focal reducer, shows that this object is a comet: coma about 15" in diameter elongated toward PA 200 (the comet was about +21 degree above the horizon at the moment of the imaging session).

Our confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version)

M.P.E.C. 2014-N72 assigns the following parabolic orbital elements to comet C/2014 N3: T 2015 Mar. 15.67; e= 1.0; Peri. = 354.49; q = 3.84;  Incl.= 61.73

UPDATE - July 15, 2014

In the image below you can see comet C/2014 N3 on the infrared discovery frame taken by NEOWISE and (on the right) a follow-up image taken by J. Masiero through the 8 meter GEMINI telescope in Chile. (More info on the caption. Click on the image for a bigger version).

Credit: A. Mainzer

by Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes & Martino Nicolini

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Close Approach of PHA Asteroid 2014 MF6

The asteroid 2014 MF6 was discovered (at magnitude ~17.0) on 2014, June 23.3 by Catalina Sky Survey (MPC code 703) with a 0.68-m Schmidt + CCD.

According to the preliminay orbit, 2014 MF6 is an Apollo type asteroid. This class of asteroids are defined by having semi-major axes greater than that of the Earth (> 1 AU) but perihelion distances less than the Earth's aphelion distance (q < 1.017 AU). It is also flagged as a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid". PHA are asteroids larger than approximately 100m that might have threatening close approaches to the Earth (they can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU).

2014 MF6 has an estimated size of 190 m - 420 m (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=20.7) and it will have a close approach with Earth at about 9.1 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0233 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) at 1939 UT on 2014, July 09. This asteroid will reach the peak magnitude ~15.3 on the period from 06 to 09 July 2014.

We performed some follow-up measurements of this object on 2014, July 09.4, remotely from the Q62 iTelescope network (Siding Spring, AU) through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + focal reducer). Below you can see our image taken with the asteroid at magnitude ~15.3 and moving at ~ 40.43 "/min.  Click on the image below to see a bigger version. North is up, East is to the left (the asteroid is trailed in the image due to its fast speed).

Below you can see a short animation showing the movement of 2014 MF6 (three consecutive 60-second exposure). Click here or on the thumbnail below to see the animation (East is up, North is to the right):

Close Approach of asteroid 2014 MF6 photo 2014_MF6_09_July_2014_zpsb8d70b94.gif

by Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes & Martino Nicolini