Archive for November, 2011

A new unusual object was discovered at the ISON-NM observatory

A new object receiving the designation 2011 RC17 was discovered in the course of a sky survey on Sept 2, 2011, but it only became known a few days ago… This happened because, at the time of discovery, the object had too low an MPC rating, which indicates whether the object might be interesting or it might be a typical main belt asteroid. In this case, the program that determines the rating was mistaken; consequently, the object was not flagged by our observatory for follow-up and had every chance to leave without revealing its true nature.

That did not happen, in part, because the object was detected initially in the morning sky, far from the antisolar point and moved closer to it only a month and a half later. This area of the sky is heavily studied by the surveys, and the object was found again. It happened on September 23 at Mt. Lemmon Observatory. After that, the object was again lost for a month before its opposition. Near opposition the object was observed by several observatories, and not until the second half of November were all of these disparate measurements related and identified as one object, discovered by our observatory 2.5 months ago!

That is how such an unknown object so quickly got such a precise orbit, so that now it will not be lost. By itself, this is an illustrative story, a short history of how the mechanism works for searching for new objects in the solar system. But also the new asteroid itself – 2011 RC17, turned out to be not very simple. In terms of orbital elements it defies classification, it is most like a Centaurs, but this group of asteroids moves between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune without coming into the inner solar system. Asteroid 2011 RC17’s perihelion distance is slightly less than 3 a.u., i.e., it comes just inside the main asteroid belt.

Such an orbit is closer to that of a comet, and naturally, it was immediately suggested that this object may be the nucleus of a comet, inactive at the present time. Maybe so, but unfortunately, there is no sign of cometary activity in this object. Now asteroid 2011 RC17 is already moving away from the Sun, and if cometary activity is not observed there now, it can hardly appear before the asteroid’s next approach to the Sun, which will take place in exactly 16 years. At that time, we will again try to solve the mystery of this interesting object.

MPC statistic for October – November 2011

The new monthly MPC circular released – MPC 76679- 77124.

ISON-NM statistic for the previous month (September 7 – October 7):

Number of measurements: 17163

Measured objects: 4193

Discovered objects: 148

Sky coverage: 630 sq. degrees

Observing nights*: 28

* – include partial nights

First real video of 2005 YU55

2005 YU55 close flyby

Observation of 2005 YU55 at ISON-NM Observatory will be started on Nov. 09, 01:30 UT. Stay tuned!

Observation of optical transients now and in real time


This week at our observatory a program of automatic observations of optical transients began. Receiving notice of a gamma ray burst, the telescope automatically goes to the object and takes a series of images. This way, any ongoing observation program comes to a halt with the interruption of the exposure.

The first observation of a gamma ray burst in full automatic mode took place October 29. Our telescope began observations of the event just 77 seconds after receiving an urgent message about the gamma ray burst (alert). Unfortunately, this time it was not possible to detect the afterglow, but the best is still ahead!

In addition, in automatic mode we were able to conduct automatic observations of optical transients posted on the Transient Objects Confirmation Page – TOCP. At the moment two supernovas have already been confirmed.

November 2011
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