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Sky Alerts

Dr Ian Musgrave  - iTelescope Science Advisor

An avid amateur astronomer, Ian writes the weekly sky updates for ABC Radio Science and is science adviser to iTelescope. When not staring at the sky he is an equally enthusiastic molecular pharmacologist at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

You can follow Ian Musgrave on his Astroblog for daily posts about astronomy, biology and life, the Universe and everything.

"Over at Astroblog I largely guide people to the view of the sky as seen with the unaided eye. But I’m also an iTelescope.Net user, and I’m very honoured to have been invited to highlight some of the interesting objects that can be seen through the iTelescopes.

While many people are familiar with the larger, more glamorous objects in the night sky that make good iTelescope targets, there are a host of lesser known, interesting objects that are well worth chasing such as fast moving Near Earth Objects, Novae and Comets."  Twitter @ianmusgrave

Entries in alert (180)

Friday
Dec182015

ALERT! Fast NEO 2015 YB on 18-19 December, 2015

UPDATE: The designation of asteroid 2015 YB has been withdrawn, it is a non-object.

Newly discovered NEO 2015 YB as seen from SSO from Astronomical twilight (20:00 pm, 9:00 UT) 18 December - 19 December. The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 1 Hour, the black square the JPL Ephemeris position at 11:00 UT 19 Dec.

Near Earth Asteroid  2015 YB will  come close to Earth on 12:08 UT 19 December at distance of 0.000395 AU (around 0.15 Earth-Moon distances). It is brightest at 12:30 UT on the 31st though. It has an estimated diameter of around 80m.

The asteroid is currently magnitude 19.0, and will be a moderately bright magnitude 13.2 at closest approach.

It is visible from both the Northern Hemisphere scopes and the SSO scopes before brightest times (around magnitude 11) but is only reasonably high above the horizon form SSO before it comes too close to the horizon.

At magnitude 10, 60 second exposures may be reasonable, shorter exposures may be too dim, at its brightest it will be moving too fast for the scopes to track.

NEO 2015 YB as seen from SSO from 21:00 pm, 10:00 UT)  19 December.  The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 5 minutes. The large rectangle is the field of view of T12. Click to embiggen.

NEO 2015 YB moves from Orion, then through Canis Major, Puppis and beyond.

It is moving fast (1698 arc seconds/minute at its brightest), and is outside the reach of  the tracking capability of the iTelescopes at its brightest. You will need to use a topocentric ephemeris and camp out on the asteroid track in this case.

The asteroid will cross the FOV of T12 in less than 5 minutes.

There is a  large parallax effect (> 13 arc minutes at closest approach), so unless your planetarium program is able to cope with close parallax (most can't), you will need to work from topocentric coordinates.

For topocentric ephemerides go to http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/MPEph/MPEph.html

or JPL and choose the ephemeris link http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2015YB;old=0;orb=0;cov=0;log=0;cad=1#cad

Use the oobservatory code for your observatory eg  MPC Siding Spring Code Q62. Mayhill Code H06.

Always use the latest possible orbital elements and ephemeris. Note that at the moment the JPL and MPEC ephemeris do not converge, reflecting how current orbital uncertanties feed into their orbit models, you you will need to keep checking uuntil they substantaiily onverge.

JPL ephemeris for SSO at 11:00 UT (22:00 local time)  07 04 37.73 -31 18 02.5

The planning guides to viewing YU55 here and here will help organising topocentric ephemerides for close approaching NEO's.

You will need to use unguided exposures.

Choose a point where the asteroid will pass and aim at that. Remember that it takes time for the iTelescopes scopes to get to tracking position. T12 and T14 can take up to 5 minutes (depending on there being reliable stars in the field for tracking, check your logs to see what the average slew time is), so offset you initial position by around 4 minutes or so (this will be a significant distance) so the asteroid will be in field. The asteroid will cross the T12 FOV in about 5 minutes. and the T14 in around 7 minutes at its brightest approach (due to the orientation of the CCD).

Current JPL ephemeris for SSO

*******************************************************************************************************
 Date__(UT)__HR:MN     R.A._(ICRF/J2000.0)_DEC  APmag            delta      deldot    S-O-T /r    S-T-O
*******************************************************************************************************
$$SOE
2015-Dec-19 09:00 *m  05 46 30.58 -10 27 50.5  14.18 0.00111794080605 -13.5656921 146.1365 /T  33.8264
 2015-Dec-19 10:00 Nm  06 09 16.88 -17 16 27.3  13.66 0.00080050791595 -12.6692608 138.9517 /L  41.0170
 2015-Dec-19 11:00  m  07 04 37.73 -31 18 02.5  13.21 0.00052267191029  -9.8311350 122.2151 /L  57.7586
 2015-Dec-19 12:00  m  10 27 22.18 -52 20 09.0  13.93 0.00038183169661  -0.4229668  82.9141 /L  97.0634
Thursday
Dec172015

Christmas Eve Asteroid 2003 SD220

Chart showing the movement and location of the "Christmas Eve" asteroid 2003 SD220 as seen from SSO from Astronomical twilight (4:18:am, 17:18 UT) 24 December - 27 December. The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 5 hours. Click to embiggen

Asteroid  2003 SD220 will  come close to Earth on 13:08  UT 24 December at distance of 0.073 AU (around 28.4 Earth-Moon distances).

Although it is only one of four close approaching asteroids on the 24th (UT), and is much further away then the other 3, it is by far the largest with an estimated diameter of around 1.8 km.

The asteroid is currently magnitude 15.4, but will be invisible from iTelescopes at closest approach at closest approach. It will slowly drift down in magnitude, but remain in the 15.5-15.7 range for a few days.

It is visible from both the Northern Hemisphere scopes and the SSO scopes near Spica just before astronomical twilight. After the 25th the SSO has the best view as the asteroid heads into Hydra.

The asteroid is moving slowly enough that the telescopes can track it, maybe 3-5 minute exposures may work to pick the asteroid up.

Asteroid 2003 SD220 as seen from SSO from Astronomical twilight (4:18:am, 17:18 UT) 24 December - 27 December. The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 3 hours. The large rectangle is the field of view of T12, the small that of T9. Click to embiggen.

Asteroid 2003 SD220 moves from Virgo, then through Hydra, Centaurus and beyond (it is magnitude 17 by then).

It is moving relatively slowly for close approachers (9 arc seconds/minute at its brightest), and should be easily trackable with  iTelescopes that have small body tracking capability (T12 and T14 cannot track asteroids and comets).

MPC one line Ephemeris:

G3899   17.0   0.15 K161D 257.16312  326.44287  274.06174    8.46007  0.2106332  1.30903706   0.8276272  2 MPO356158   217   8 2000-2015 0.46 M-h 3Eh MPC        0000         (163899) 2003 SD220 20151123

Thursday
Nov122015

UPDATE! Latest Elements for WT1190F (last opportunities tonight)

If you intend to try and image the putative space junk WT1190F, before it comes down tomorrow at 13 Nov 2015 around 06 UT, there are new ephemerides available from the JPL Horizons web interface

http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/horizons.cgi (search on WT1190F)

and  the Minor Planet Ephemeris Services's Space Junk site (tick the WT1190F box)

http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/artsats/artsats.html

In both cases you can specify the Mayhill Observatoy (H06) or SSO (Q26) or Astrocamp(I89) or URO (U69) as your observatory location.

Tuesday
Nov102015

ALERT! Observations of the Occultation of Mag 9.8 star by (29) Amphitrite requested

Location of the asteroid (29) Amphitrite and the target star TYC 1198-00160-1 As seen from Mayhill New Mexico 4 hours before the occultation. The rectangles are the fields of view of T5 and T30 (yes,T30's SSO but it is to late to redo the chart). Click to embiggen.

Observations are urgently requested by IOTA for the occulation of the 9.9 magnitude star TYC 1198-00160-1 by the magnitude 9.1 asteroid (29) Amphitrite.

The Asteroid occulation goes over Mayhill New Mexico, so the iTelescope scopes are well positioned to catch this. The occultation occurs between Nov 11 4:34 UT to 4:58 UT, from SkyMap the occultation is deepest at 4:48 UT at MayHill, which agrees pretty well with this table. 4:48 11 Nov UT is 9:48 pm 10 Nov at Mayhill local time.

Track of Asteroid (29) Amphitrite up to and after the occultation, the field of view is that of T5.Times are local Mayhill times. Click to embiggen.

The asteroid moves rather lazilly, so if you start observing 15 minutes before the prsumed occultation time to 15 minutes after you should catch the asteroid moving on even if the contact times are a few minutes out.

Peter Lake recomnds tracking on the star and doing multiple short (5-10 second) exposures.

J2000 cordinates for TYC 1198-00160-1

RA: 01h 33m 19.1473s
Dec: +16° 43' 03.003"

MPEC one line ephemeris for (29) Amphitrite

00029    5.85  0.20 K161D 355.97871   62.00670  356.42034    6.08975  0.0718754  0.24139520   2.5545651  0 MPO350795  1913  88 1855-2015 0.62 M-v 38h MPC        0000             (29) Amphitrite 20151023

Submit timing information to Paul Maley of IOTA email: pdmaley@yahoo.com

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