Archive for April, 2011

MPC statistic for March – April 2011

The new monthly MPC circular released – MPC 74325- 74768.

ISON-NM statistic for the previous month (March 15 – April 11):

Number of measurements: 14438

Measured objects: 3514

Discovered objects: 30

Sky coverage: 530 sq. degrees

Observing nights*: 22

* – include partial nights

Is there a relationship between the conjunctions of comet Elenin and earthquakes on Earth?

This questions one of more popular and I decide to make dedicate topic about this subject. Below you can see all significant earthquakes on Earth (from 7-th magnitude by Richter scale and higher), as well as relative position of Solar System planets and the comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin). All data about earthquakes taken from the USGS site.

Magnitude 7.1 NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN April 07, 2011

Magnitude 9.0 NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN March 11, 2011

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“Blinking” asteroid passes the Earth

This interesting near-Earth asteroid was discovered by the Spanish La Carpa survey on April 8th, receiving the designation 2011 GP59. Several hours after the discovery of the object, one of its discoverers, Jaime Nomen reported that the object noticeably varied in brightness with an amplitude of more than two magnitudes! This is very significant; most asteroids, due to their rotation, vary in brightness by tenths of a magnitude.

Lowell observatory / Brian Skiff

Many asteroid observers have observed this new guest, and we have received precise photometric curves (graphs of the change in brightness with time). One of the astronomers was Brian Skiff, working at Lowell Observatory. You can see the graph at left.

The period of rotation of asteroid 2011 GP59 is just 7.5 minutes, although this is far from the fastest rotating asteroid. The record belongs to asteroid 2010 TD54; it makes a full rotation on its axis in just 42 seconds!

Above, you can easily see how asteroid 2011 GP59 “blinks”. This animation was made by Nick James using his 28-cm telescope. At the time of the image, the asteroid was located 3,356,000 km from Earth – 1.4 times the average distance from the Earth to the Moon. Its closest distance to the Moon on this passage was 2.3 times less than that- just 236,000 km. The next time this asteroid passes by the Earth will be April 9, 2028.

Frequently asked questions about comet Elenin

On our website has opened a new section of frequently asked questions about my comet and me. I will choosing the most popular questions and answer them in Russian and English languages??.

Please enter!

Comet Elenin continues to increase in size, and another close approach with a large Main belt asteroid

ISON-NM observatory / L. Elenin

April 8th at our observatory we carried out planned observations of Comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin). An analysis of the results of the observations shows a rapid growth of the coma. Besides the internal compact gas envelope, the forming rarified external coma is also visible in the image. It’s diameter exceeds 1 minute of arc, or 80,000 km! It is possible that such a rapid growth of the coma is associated with the apparent superposition over it of the comet’s dust tail, which after opposition, still remains invisible to the Earthly observer.

The brightness of the comet also has crossed the 16m boundary, and according to the calculations of Artem Novichonok, has reached 15.4m. Such an estimate is supported by the first visual observations of the comet by Jakub Koukal and Juan Jose Gonzalez on the 4th and 5th of April respectively. It is worth noting that another well-known visual comet observer, Alan Hale, 1995 co-discoverer of comet Hale-Bopp, was not able to find Comet Elenin on April 5th with his 41-cm reflector…

In the image at left still another event is captured – the close approach of Comet Elenin to asteroid 4336 Jasniewicz. Here the closeness of the objects, which are only 11 arc minutes apart, is not an optical illusion but a real physical closeness of two celestial bodies. At the time the image was obtained, the distance between the comet and the 6-km asteroid was just 1,495,000 km (0.01 AU), which is only 3.9 times the average distance between the Earth and Moon (LD). Closest approach of the two objects was several hours earlier; they were only 1,120,000 km apart (0.008 AU).

April 2011
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