Archive for May, 2011

Perhaps the closest approach of comet Elenin to a Main-belt asteroid

ISON-NM / L. Elenin

Comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) is approaching the inside edge of the Main asteroid belt. Close approaches to asteroids are becoming increasingly rare, but May 21, 2011 we were able to photograph one of the most interesting approaches mentioned earlier. May 21st at 00:52 UT Comet Elenin and asteroid (74732) 1999 RQ176 passed each other at a distance of only 225,830 km, which amounts to 0.59 the average distance between the Earth and Moon. In addition, based on measurements from those same images, the size of the comet’s coma has exceeded 100,000 km, and probably in reality the coma is still larger, and we could see it on images taken with the largest telescopes. If we were on this asteroid we would have seen a simply spectacular view!

On the image at left, taken 3 hours after closest approach, you can see how close the two objects came. Asteroid 1999 RQ176 is a rather large representative of the Flora family, and has a diameter of about 2.7 km.

In a month and a half, the comet will cross the orbit of Mars reaching a heliocentric distance of 1.5 a.u., and in the opinion of well-known astronomer John Bortle, at that time the show begins.

The new near-Sun asteroid


Spanish sky survey La Sagra discovered a new object with temporary designation 15LB160. This asteroid is likely to be classified as potentially hazardous (PHA), the minimum distance of the intersection of its orbit with the orbit of Earth is 0.044 AU, body diameter about 450 meters. The object has not yet obtain an official designation, but has already been confirmed by many observatories, including our own. It is quite possible that this asteroid will be in top ten near-Earth asteroids with the smallest distance of the perihelion passage q ~ 0.1 AU!

P.S. Asteroid was designated as 2011 KE.

MPC statistic for April – May 2011

The new monthly MPC circular released – MPC 74769- 75106.

ISON-NM statistic for the previous month (April 12 – May 13):

Number of measurements: 11871

Measured objects: 2948

Discovered objects: 31

Sky coverage: 560 sq. degrees

Observing nights*: 27

* – include partial nights

Illustration about comet Elenin

New features on my website

Since May 15 on our website launched a new commenting system, more suitable for a dialogue with readers than the standard comments. Now, formatting of comments will have a tree-like structure, like used on many forums.

Next, I addedt the voting system. You can see the question and variant of answers on the sidebar. I would appreciate it if you spend a little time and vote, I am very interested in your opinion.

Clear skies!

May 2011
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