Sunday, November 11, 2018

New Comet C/2018 V1 (Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto)

CBET 4569 (issued on 2018, November 08) and  MPEC 2018-V151 (2018, November 11),  announce the discovery of a 10th-magnitude comet by  Donald E. Machholz (Colfax, CA, U.S.A) and independently by Shigehisa Fujikawa (Kan'onji, Kagawa, Japan) and Masayuki Iwamoto (Awa, Tokushima, Japan).

The new comet has been designated C/2018 V1 (Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto).

- D. Machholz reported his VISUAL DISCOVERY on Nov. 7.531 UT with a 0.47-m reflector (113x). He also observed the comet with similar appearance on Nov. 8.533

- Shigehisa Fujikawa  found the object (with no description provided) on Nov. 7.82 UT on a CCD image obtained with a 120-mm-f.l. f/3.5 lens. His discovery was reported to the Central Bureau's TOCP webpage, which produced the provisional designation TCP J12192806-0211143

- Masayuki Iwamoto discovered the new object on images obtained on Nov. 7.841 with a 10-cm f/4.0 Pentax SDUF II telephoto lens and a Canon EOS 6D camera; Iwamoto called it a possible comet of mag 10 with approximate position R.A. = 12h19m30s, Decl. = -2d11' (equinox 2000.0) and his observations was reported on TCP J12192806-0211143 TOCP webpage. He added that he also observed it one minute later and detected no movement.

Prompted by the Iwamoto's remark in the TOCP webpage about the possible cometary nature of this transient I decided to perform  follow-up measurements of this object. The telescope I chose was T14 astrograph in New Mexico due to its wide field FOV (155.8 x 233.7 arc-mins). In fact as only 1 astrometric position was available at that time and my observation was scheduled 16 hours after it was taken, in case of a comet it was important to have as much field as possible around that only reported astrometry point.

As it happens, it was a comet and I found it about 51 arcmin from the reported astrometry available (60 arcmin is 1 degree). Single unfiltered 60 second exposure, obtained remotely on 2018, November 08.5 from H06 (iTelescope network) through a 0.10-m f/5 reflector + CCD, shows that this object is a comet with a diffuse coma about 2 arcmin in diameter.

My astrometry of this new comet was reported to MPC in order to allow it to be put on "The Possible Comet Confirmation Page" (TPCCP) for fellow observers around the world to observe it.


My confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version).



Below the list of observations in the order they came (following the posting on the TOCP and after that on the Minor Planet Center's NEOCP webpages) as reported on CBET 4569 (click on it for a bigger version):



Below you can see a short animation spanning about 35 minutes (70 x 30sec exposures) obtained on Nov. 9.16 by fellow Italian amateur astronomer Alfonso Noschese from his "Osservatorio Elianto" (MPC code K68 - 0.3-m f/4.0 Newtonian reflector + CCD; AstroCampania association). (click on it for a bigger version):



On November 11.16, A. Noschese imaged again comet C/2018 V1 that in the meantime developed a nice ion tail clearly visible in his images below:




M.P.E.C. 2018-V151 assigns the following preliminary parabolic orbital elements to comet C/2018 V1: T 2018 Dec. 3.51; e= 1.0; Peri. =  88.83; q = 0.38;  Incl.= 143.96

Below you can see a graph generated using the software Orbitas and showing the predicted magnitude (in red) versus the maximum height (for Northern Hemisphere). (click on the image for a bigger version). Visual estimates have the comet at mag. ~8.0 on November 12, 2018 (as always with comets, the future magnitudes reported here are only indicative).




Congrats to Don Machholz, Shigehisa Fujikawa and Masayuki Iwamoto!

This is 12th comet discovery for Machholz, coming 746 search hours after his discovery of C/2010 F4 (cf. IAUC 9132); the 2nd comet discovery for Iwamoto (see here for more info about his previous discovery C/2013 E2) ; the 7th comet discovery for Fujikawa



UPDATE - November 13, 2018

We imaged again comet C/2018 V1 on November 12.16 from "Osservatorio Elianto" (MPC code K68 - 0.3-m f/4.0 Newtonian reflector + CCD). The ion tail is  increasingly evident as you can see in the image & animation below. (click on the images for a bigger version)




by Ernesto Guido

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Comets & Asteroids - Summary for Sept & Oct 2018

During the 2-month period September through October 2018, 3 new comets were discovered and there  were 5 comet recoveries. "Current comet magnitudes" & "Daily updated asteroid flybys" pages are available at the top of this blog (or just click on the underline text here). See below for the "Other news" section.

The dates below refer to the date of issuance of CBET (Central Bureau Electronic Telegram)  which reported the official news & designations.

- Comet Discoveries

Sep 16 Discovery of C/2018 R3 (LEMMON)     (CBET 4556)
Sep 16 Discovery of C/2018 R4 (FULS)            (CBET 4557)
Sep 18 Discovery of C/2018 R5 (LEMMON)     (CBET 4559)


- Comet Recoveries

Sep 08  Recovery of P/2001 R6 (LINEAR-SKIFF) as P/2018 R1 (CBET 4552)
Sep 16  Recovery of P/2008 O2 (McNAUGHT) as P/2018 P6      (CBET 4554)
Sep 16  Recovery of P/2011 W2 (RINNER) as P/2018 R2           (CBET 4555)
Sep 18  Recovery of P/2007 V1 (LARSON) as P/2018 S1           (CBET 4558)
Oct 06  Recovery of P/2006 D1 (HILL) as P/2018 T1                   (CBET 4560)


- Other news

Sep 14 CBET 4553, CBET 4561 (Oct 07), CBET 4562 (Oct 14), CBET 4563 (Oct 18), CBET 4565 (Oct 23), CBET 4566 (Oct 23) & CBET 4567 (Oct 26) report that the following minor planets are binaries systems: (25015) 1998 QN2 & (5402) KEJOSMITH & (18527) 1996 VJ30 & (2178) KAZAKHSTANIA & (100015) 1989 SR7 & (6100) KUNITOMOIKKANSAI & 2018 TF3.

Sep 25 Third most energetic meteor of the year (1.9 kT) was observed, filmed and recorded South of Reunion & Mauritius islands, on September 25, 14h10m UT.

Image of the September 25, 2018, 14h 10m UT fireball extracted from a Youtube video of the event.

Oct 02 New Extremely Distant Solar System Object Found During Hunt for PLANET X. The newly found object, called 2015 TG387, was discovered about 80 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun. 

2015 TG387 as it moves across the sky, as seen through the Subaru telescope - Credit: S. Sheppard



Oct 23 An outburst of October Draconids was widely observed between Oct. 8d17h55m and 9d06h05m UTC (solar longitude 195.146-195.647 degrees, equinox J2000). Visual observations gathered by the International Meteor Organization suggest a peak Zenith Hourly Rate (ZHR) of 122 +/- 5 meteors/hr at 23.6 +/- 0.1 hr UTC on Oct. 8, and a full-width-at-half-maximum (FWHM) duration of 4.0 +/- 0.4 hr.  (CBET 4564)

Composite picture of 2018 Draconid outburst - Credit: Juraj Toth

by Ernesto Guido

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Comets & Asteroids - Summary for August 2018

During the month of August 2018, 4 new comets were discovered, cometary activity was detected for 1 previously discovered object (earlier designated as asteroids) and there  were 2 comet recoveries. "Current comet magnitudes" & "Daily updated asteroid flybys" pages are available at the top of this blog (or just click on the underline text here). See below for the "Other news" section.

The dates below refer to the date of issuance of CBET (Central Bureau Electronic Telegram)  which reported the official news & designations.


- Comet Discoveries

Aug 17 Discovery of C/2018 O1 (ATLAS)     (CBET 4543)
Aug 19 Discovery of P/2018 P3 (PANSTARRS) (CBET 4548)
Aug 19 Discovery of P/2018 P4 (PANSTARRS) (CBET 4549)
Aug 19 Discovery of C/2018 P5 (PANSTARRS) (CBET 4550)

- Cometary activity detected

Aug 14 Cometary activity detected in 2018 KJ3 = C/2018 KJ3 (LEMMON)

- Comet Recoveries

Aug 13  Recovery of P/2010 A1 (HILL) as P/2018 P1 (CBET 4538)
Aug 13  Recovery of P/2001 T3 (NEAT) as P/2018 P2 (CBET 4539)

- Other news

Aug 07  Asteroid (162173) Ryugu imaged on August 07, 2018 from a distance of about 1 km by @haya2e_jaxa - For more info see http://bit.ly/2M3KKCr  #astronomy #asteroids


Credit: JAXA

Aug 10 S. S. Sheppard, Carnegie Institution for Science, reports the discovery of a satellite to the trans-Neptunian object 2013 FY27.  The satellite was detected about 0".17 at a position angle of 135 degrees from the primary in four 545-s images taken with the WFPC3/UVIS instrument with the Hubble Space Telescope during 2018 Jan. 15.058-15.104 UT.  The satellite is about 3 magnitudes fainter than the primary in the F350LP filter.  The projected separation of the satellite is about 9800 km from the primary (CBET 4537)

Aug 17 M. S. P. Kelley and D. Bodewits, University of Maryland; and Q.-Z. Ye, Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, California Institute of Technology, on behalf of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) Solar System Working Group, report an outburst of comet 64P/Swift-Gehrels in ZTF images taken with the Oschin 1.2-m Schmidt telescope at Palomar. The post-outburst brightness (7"-radius aperture) is r' = 13.88 +/- 0.02, indicating an outburst strength of at least 2.7 mag (CBET 4544)

Aug 20 A Better Look At Asteroid 216 Kleopatra (based on the findings described in the article entitled A revised shape model of asteroid (216) Kleopatra, recently published in the journal Icarus).

Credit: Shepard et al.

Aug 22 Has Anyone Found a Lost Comet?! (based on the papaer "Finding Long Lost Lexell's Comet: The Fate of the First Discovered Near-Earth Object")

Aug 28 NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has made its first detection of its next flyby target, the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 nicknamed Ultima Thule, more than four months ahead of its New Year's 2019 close encounter.  

Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

by Ernesto Guido

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Comets & Asteroids - Summary for June & July 2018

During the 2-month period June through July 2018, 7 new comets were discovered, cometary activity was detected for 1 previously discovered object (earlier designated as asteroids) and there  was 1 comet recovery. "Current comet magnitudes" & "Daily updated asteroid flybys" pages are available at the top of this blog (or just click on the underline text here). See below for the "Other news" section.

The dates below refer to the date of issuance of CBET (Central Bureau Electronic Telegram)  which reported the official news & designations.


- Comet Discoveries

Jun 09 Discovery of P/2018 L1 (PANSTARRS) (CBET 4521)
Jun 09 Discovery of C/2018 L2 (ATLAS)          (CBET 4522)
Jun 22 Discovery of P/2018 L4 (PANSTARRS) (CBET 4527)
Jul 02 Discovery of P/2018 L5 (LEONARD)     (CBET 4528)
Jul 02 Discovery of C/2018 M1 (CATALINA)   (CBET 4529)
Jul 07 Discovery of C/2018 N1 (NEOWISE)     (CBET 4532)
Jul 16 Discovery of C/2018 N2 (ASASSN)        (CBET 4534)




- Cometary activity detected

Jun 11 Cometary activity detected in 2018 EN4 = C/2018 EN4 (NEOWISE)

- Comet Recoveries

Jun 14  Recovery of P/2005 R1 (NEAT) as P/2018 L3 (CBET 4526)

- Other news

Jun 01 A New Impact Crater – Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) keeps finding new impact sites on Mars. This one occurred within the dense secondary crater field of Corinto Crater.

Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona



Jun 02 Small Asteroid 2018 LA (aka ZLAF9B2) IMPACTED Earth on 02 June 2018 

Credit: (CREDIT: Mt. Lemmon Survey - CSS).



Credit: Kokotanekova et al



Jun 09 CBET 4523 & CBET 4536 (Jul 20) report that the following minor planets are binaries systems: (15745) YULIYA & (4666) DIETZ

Jun 12 New paper on Arxiv by Masiero et al.: "Small and Nearby NEOs Observed by NEOWISE During the First Three Years of Survey: Physical Properties".

Jun 14 JAXA Hayabusa2 spacecraft starts sending images of asteroid (162173) Ryugu. Below you can see some images taken from a distance of 700km on June 14, 2018 and from a distance of about 6km on July 20, 2018.

Credit: JAXA



Credit: Jaxa

Jun 26 An asteroid impact triggered an avalanche on Mars as imaged by HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Jun 27 New results indicate interstellar nomad `Oumuamua is a comet. The first interstellar object discovered in the Solar System, is moving away from the Sun faster than expected.

Credit: Micheli et al.


Jul 13 Radar images of the binary asteroid 2017 YE5 via @AreciboRadar & Green Bank Observatory on June 25 show it consists of two separate objects in orbit around each other that are roughly the same size.


Credit: Arecibo/GBO/NSF/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Jul 17 Jupiter has 10 more moons we didn't know about — and they're weird. The planet now has 79 known moons, including a tiny oddball on a collision course with its neighbours.

Jul 20 Comet C/2017 S3 (PANSTARRS) imaged by Michael Jaeger on July 20, 2018 @ Jauerling, Austria.

Credit: M. Jaeger



by Ernesto Guido

Monday, July 16, 2018

New Comet: C/2018 N2 (ASASSN)

MPEC 2018-O01, issued on 2018, July 16,  announces the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~16.1) in the course of the "All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae" (ASASSN) program, in images taken 2018 July 7-11 with the 14-cm "Cassius" survey telescope at Cerro Tololo. The new comet has been designated C/2018 N2 (ASASSN)

I performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the PCCP webpage. Stacking of 10 unfiltered exposures, 60 seconds each, obtained remotely on 2018, July 15.7 from Q62 (iTelescope network) through a 0.43-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD, shows that this object is a comet with a diffuse coma about 15 arcsec in diameter.

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



For a different elaboration of this image please click here.

M.P.E.C. 2018-O01 assigns the following preliminary parabolic orbital elements to comet C/2018 N2: T 2019 Oct. 4.09; e= 1.0; Peri. =  23.85; q = 3.00;  Incl.= 78.31

This is the second comet discovered by ASASSN Survey (more info about their first comet are here).

by Ernesto Guido

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Small Asteroid 2018 LA impacted Earth on 02 June

M.P.E.C. 2018-L04 issued on 2018 June 3 at 16:15 UT reports the discovery of the asteroid 2018 LA (discovery magnitude 18.2) by Mt. Lemmon Survey (MPC code G96 - Observer R. A. Kowalski) on images taken on June 02.3 with a 1.5-m reflector + 10K CCD. 2018 LA is a small Apollo asteroid with an estimated size of 1.7 m - 5.2 m (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=30.6).

As reported on this MPEC:  

"This object no longer exists (in its original form), following its entry into the Earth's atmosphere on 2018 June 2.  A news item on the event is in preparation by JPL's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies.  The orbit below, based on only the given astrometric observations, indicates that the object reached 50-km height above the Earth's surface around 16:51 UTC over southern Africa". 

Below you can see the discovery images of 2018 LA (also known by it provisional NEOCP designation ZLAF9B2). The asteroid is the streak just at center of the image, surrounded by the purple circle.

(CREDIT: Mt. Lemmon Survey - CSS).


Below you can see the a map of the possible impact region made by Bill Gray (click on the image for a bigger version). The corresponding impact times and locations are listed here.

Credit: Bill Gray

The yellow circle and X in Botswana mark the lat/lon from the AMS reports (see below).  According to Bill: "The object came in at about altitude 16 degrees above the horizon, at azimuth 98 degrees (a little south of due east). The magenta dots on the plot are again for impact on an airless planet; the actual impact ought to be quite a bit to the east. Which matches the impact reports nicely" and "The magenta impact points run from the Atlantic most of the way through northern Namibia, which is just south of Angola. Shifted eastward after allowing for the fact that the object was presumably seen in the upper atmosphere, they'd move into Botswana."

To date American Meteor Society (AMS) received 8 reports possibly related to entry into the Earth's atmosphere of 2018 LA about a fireball seen over South-East District, Gauteng, North West and Northern Cape on Saturday, June 2nd 2018 around 16:45 UT. In particular one of the reports by Barend Swanepoel contains a video showing the fireball as seen from between Ottosdal and Hartebeesfontein North West South Africa. (another video related to this event and submitted to AMS is visible here ; see also this CCTV camera record from Kuruma Radiators, note that in this video camera time is about 26 minutes behind).




According to Peter Brown: "Strong infrasound detection of a bolide at station I47 in South Africa today at 1730 UT. Origin time between 1645-17 UT over Botswana. Yield 0.3-0.5 kT, corresponding to 2m diameter asteroid".

Credit: P. Brown



This is only the third time in history that an impacting object is observed prior to atmospheric entry. The first time it happened was with asteroid 2008 TC3, the second was with asteroid 2014 AA. Curiously all these 3 events have been discovered by Richard A. Kowalski & Catalina Sky Survey (Richard is also the founder of MPML Minor Planet Mailing List celebrating this year its 20th anniversary). Another space impacting object discovered prior to its to atmospheric entry was WT1190F but it is thought to have been a space debris, possibly  the translunar injection module of Lunar Prospector. For more info about 2008 TC3 and 2014 AA see also:


http://remanzacco.blogspot.it/2008/10/small-asteroid-2008-tc3-to-hit-earth.html

http://remanzacco.blogspot.com/2008/10/2008-tc3-animation.html

http://remanzacco.blogspot.com/2008/10/2008-tc3-update-impact-flash-imaged.html

http://remanzacco.blogspot.com/2008/11/2008-tc3-trail-imaged-over-northern.html

http://remanzacco.blogspot.it/2009/02/2008-tc3-fragments-recovered.html

http://remanzacco.blogspot.com/2014/01/small-asteroid-2014-aa-hit-earths_2.html 

http://remanzacco.blogspot.com/search/label/asteroid%20impact


UPDATE - July 06, 2018

On Saturday, June 23, 2018, after five days of walking and scouring around a team of experts from Botswana, South Africa, Finland and the United States of America recovered a fresh-looking 18-g meteorite in Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). The meteorite is one of the fragments of asteroid 2018 LA which collided with Earth on June 2, 2018 and turned into a meteor fireball that detonated over Botswana a few seconds after entering the atmosphere.


Credit: Peter Jenniskens

This is the third time in history that an asteroid inbound to hit Earth was detected early and only the second time that fragments were recovered. After disruption, the asteroid fragments were blown by the wind while falling down, scattering over a wide area. Calculations of the landing area were done independently by a US-based group headed by Peter Jenniskens, a subject expert of the NASA-sponsored SETI Institute in California, as well as Esko Lyytinen and Jarmo Moilanen of the Finnish Fireball Network (FFN).


Credit: Peter Jenniskens

by Ernesto Guido

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Comets & Asteroids - Summary for April & May 2018

During the 2-month period April through May 2018, 2 new comets were discovered, cometary activity was detected for 2 previously discovered objects (earlier designated as asteroids) and there  was 1 comet recovery. "Current comet magnitudes" & "Daily updated asteroid flybys" pages are available at the top of this blog (or just click on the underline text here). See below for the "Other news" section.

The dates below refer to the date of issuance of CBET (Central Bureau Electronic Telegram)  which reported the official news & designations.

- Comet Discoveries

Apr 26  Discovery of P/2018 H2 (PANSTARRS)
May 31 Discovery of C/2018 K1 (Weiland)

- Cometary activity detected

Apr 17 Cometary activity detected in A/2018 F4 = C/2018 F4 (PANSTARRS) *
Apr 20 Cometary activity detected in 2018 EF9 = C/2018 EF9 (Lemmon)

* This object initially received the unusual designation A/2018 F4 by G. V. Williams on MPEC 2018-F139 because of the hyperbolic orbit.

See also MPEC 2018-H21: "This object, originally announced as A/2018 F4, is being redesignated as a comet.  K. Sarneczky, Konkoly Observatory, reports that five stacked 120-s unfiltered CCD images taken on Apr. 9.9 UT with the 0.60-m Schmidt telescope at Piszkesteto, Hungary, show a broad fan-shaped coma of diameter nearly 6", elongated toward the east.  R. Weryk (University of Hawaii) reports that images taken with the 3.6-m CFHT on Mauna Kea on Apr. 13.39 UT show that the object has a FWHM of 2".4 (larger than the 1".4 FWHM for nearby stars) and a broad, short tail towards the east".

- Comet Recoveries

Apr 18  Recovery of P/2011 CR42 (CATALINA) as P/2018 H1


- Other news

Apr 16 New paper on Arxiv by Jewitt et al.: "The Nucleus of Active Asteroid 311P/(2013 P5) PANSTARRS".

Credits: Jewitt et al.


Apr 23 New paper on Arxiv by Nesvorny et al.: "Bi-lobed Shape of Comet 67P from a Collapsed Binary".

Apr 24 Dust, stars, and cosmic rays swirling around Comet 67P, captured by the @ESA_Rosetta probe (processing by @landru79)

Credit: Esa Rosetta


Apr 25 Gaia Data Release 2: Observations of solar system objects. The Gaia spacecraft of the European Space Agency (ESA) has been securing observations of solar system objects (SSOs) since the beginning of its operations. Gaia Data Release 2 (DR2) contains the observations of a selected sample of 14,099 SSOs.  The published Gaia data set in data release 2 only contains a selected sample of asteroids, as the observations of many more have already been collected, and will become available in future releases. By the end of the mission there will most probably be more than 300.000, and the accurate positions, 100s times better than in the past, will disclosing new possibility of investigation. The pictures below show a colorful plot of the orbits of the asteroids in Gaia’s second data release (coloured according to perihelion distance), between the Sun and Jupiter. As usual in scaled plots, the Solar System appears crowded and individual lines merge in the region of the Main Belt, between Mars and Jupiter, where most asteroids concentrate. In reality, of course, these asteroid trajectories are millions of km apart.

Credit: Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC, P. Tanga


May 07 Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture: Rubble Piles in the Sky | @michael_w_busch reviews the near-Earth population, programs to track and characterize near-Earth asteroids, and current efforts to address the danger of asteroid impacts. Watch it here on Youtube

May 09 ESO Press Release: Exiled Asteroid Discovered in Outer Reaches of Solar System - ESO telescopes find first confirmed carbon-rich asteroid in Kuiper Belt: "An international team of astronomers has used ESO telescopes to investigate a relic of the primordial Solar System. The team found that the unusual Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95 is a carbon-rich asteroid, the first of its kind to be confirmed in the cold outer reaches of the Solar System. This curious object likely formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has been flung billions of kilometres from its origin to its current home in the Kuiper Belt."

May 11 OSSOS Survey, the complete data release is now published!  Eight hundred and forty precisely defined orbits, with a survey simulator calibrating their detection efficiency. Article by Michele Bannister for @ConversationUK: "How @OSSOSurvey discovered 840 minor planets beyond Neptune – and what they can tell us"


Credit: OSSOS Survey


May 15 New paper on Arxiv by Fern├índez et al.: "Dynamical evolution and end states of active and inactive Centaurs". 

Credit: Fernández et al.


May 21 New paper on Nature Astronomy by Shi et al..: "Coma morphology of comet 67P controlled by insolation over irregular nucleus". Shi et al. study the activity of comet #67P using #Rosetta images, finding that diffuse activity is controlled by sunlight and it can be focused by the roughness of the nucleus' surface to create the nice coma shapes.

Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA; Nature Astronomy



Credit: Hsieh et al.


May 28 New paper on Arxiv by J. Agarwal & M. Mommert: "Nucleus of active asteroid 358P/Pan-STARRS (P/2012 T1)". 

by Ernesto Guido