Asteroids in December

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Pete
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Asteroids in December

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Sunday, 14 Dec 2014

It’ll be a moonless night, and although the forecast is for only moderate transparency it turned out to be an exceptional clear dark “typical winter” sky. Air temperature is 35°F.

2014 QK434 is a 998 meter sized potentially hazardous Apollo now 18.3 magnitude and 10.6 million miles distant. Motion is 4.4’/hr and uncertainty level is 3. Imaged from 18:23 – 18:54 at 1 minute exposure, 2X2 binning, -30°C cooling, 12 Hz guiding. Using track ‘n stack, frames 1-8, 9-16 & 17-24 show dRA & dDEC = 0’, and magnitude = 18.2 (red).

QK434 appears to be in a unique part of the sky frequented by numerous satellite passes. The first one appeared while making 1 second exposure adjustments of the field and was captured in 11 sequential frames grabbed when I thought it was a very near Earth asteroid. Closer examination suggests that it was a double satellite with one trailing the other with just a few arc-seconds separation. In subsequent exposures of QK434 numerous other satellites crossed the image on very much the same track.

3200 Phaethon is an 8 km sized Apollo now 16.2 mag and .8 AU distant. Motion is 2.5’/hr. Imaged from 19:03 – 19:24 hrs at 1 min, 2X2, -30C, 2 Hz. Frames 5, 9 & 12 show dRA & dDEC = 0’.

2014 WQ201 is a little 208 meter sized Amor now 18.9 magnitude and 11 million miles distant. Discovered 19 days ago, apparent motion is 3.5’/hr and uncertainty level is 6. Imaged from 19:40 – 20:13 hrs at 90 sec, 2X2, -30C, 13 Hz. Frames 1-2, 3-4 & 5-6 show dRA & dDEC = 0.
2007 WN6 is a dim 19.6 magnitude main belt asteroid in the same frame as 2014 WQ201. It’s 1.2 AU distant and moving at 38”/hr. Frames 1-4, 5-8 and 9-12 show dRA & dDEC = 0’.

2014 XQ3 is a 792 meter sized Apollo now a dim 19.6 mag and .4 AU distant. Discovered 5 days ago, uncertainty level is 8. Motion is 2.9’/hr. Imaged from 20:23 – 21:08 hrs at 90 sec, 2X2, -30C, 2 Hz. Frames 1-4, 5-8 & 9-12 show dRA and dDEC = 0’.

74987 (in the XQ3 FOV) is a 6 km sized main belt asteroid 1.9 AU distant and a very dim 19.7 magnitude. Motion is a slow 15.6”/hour. Frames 1-7, 8-14 & 15-20 show dRA & dDEC = 0’.

2014 MQ67 is a 629 meter sized Amor now 19.0 mag and 0.3 AU distant. Discovered 9 days ago, and based upon only 9 observations, uncertainty level is 6. Apparent motion is 1.2’/hr. Imaged from 21:20 – 21:36 hrs at 4 min, 2X2, -30C, 12 Hz. Although the ephemeris is fairly centered for where it’s supposed to be, IT’S NOT IN THE FOV.

2012 VW36 is a 1.3 km size asteroid .5 AU distant and 18.6 magnitude. Uncertainty level is still up at 3 because of a lost/found type history (actually first discovered in 2010). Only 51 observations have been made at 2 oppositions and VW was last observed in Jan 2013. Motion is 1.7’/hr. Imaged starting at 21:46 hrs: 3 min, 2X2, -30C, 1 Hz. There are 5 other asteroids in the image frame that will be addressed as VW is worked. Frames 7, 12 & 17 show dRA & dDEC = 0’

18579 is a 9.5 km sized main belt asteroid in the VW36 frame. 18.0 magnitude & 1.7 AU distant. Motion is 0.5726’/hr. Frames 1, 5 & 9 show dRA & dDEC = 0’.
408882 is another main belt asteroid in the VW36 field. It’s 18.9 mag, 1 AU, and uncertainty level is 1. Motion is 0.5870’/hr. Frames 1, 5 & 9 show dRA & dDEC = 0’.

94705 is a 3.2 km main belt asteroid in the VW36 frame. It’s 1.1 AU distant, 18.9 magnitude, and moving at 0.6545’/hr. Frames 1, 5 & 9 show dRA & dDEC = 0’.

12781 is an 8.7 km sized main belt asteroid in the VW36 frame. It’s 17.4 magnitude, 1.4 AU and motion is 0.5156’/hr. Frames 1, 4 & 7 show dRA and dDEC = 0’.

240429 is a dim 19.4 magnitude main belt asteroid in the VW36 frame. It’s 1.6 AU distant and moving 0.5276’/hr. Using track & stack, frames 1-3, 7-9 & 13-15 show dRA & dDEC = 0’.

Although the sky’s dark and pristine I’m in at 22:58 hrs. It’s down to 29°F and it’s best to avoid getting chilled. 36 observations are forwarded to the MPC 
Conclusions & lessons learned:

Although fighting a relapse of a bug it was a magical night with the clearness of a winter sky. It was also super productive. Gotta love it when it gets dark so early.

hgp 15 Dec 2014
Pete P.
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