This Is SKY & TELESCOPE's AstroAlert for Minor Planets

>================================================================== > > MINOR PLANET 2003 XJ7 ZOOMS BY > >This AstroAlert is being issued right about the time another asteroid >has entered Earth-Moon space. The object will pass just 150,000 >kilometers from Earth -- 40 percent of the distance to the Moon -- >around 19:04 Universal Time December 6th (today). It will then be >racing 0.4 degree per MINUTE across Canis Major, heading south. > >The interloper was first picked up only yesterday by the LINEAR >minor-planet survey in Socorro, New Mexico. Some 19 hours later, >amateur astronomer Peter Birtwhistle of West Berkshire, England, >reimaged it with his 12-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. He has >posted an animated GIF on his Web site at >
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>LINEAR's and Birtwhistle's measurements allowed Kyle E. Smalley of the >Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to compute details of >the flyby. In announcing the find on an electronic circular late last >night, the center designated the object 2003 XJ7. The Minor Planet >Center's Web site is at
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>Smalley calculates that 2003 XJ7 is heading toward the Sun in an orbit >inclined 18 degrees to the ecliptic. Every 1.38 years it ranges from >1.82 astronomical units (just beyond Mars's orbit) inward to 0.66 a.u. >(the orbit of Venus) and back out again. > >Only a half dozen asteroids have ever been observed to pass this close >to Earth. The closest of all, 2003 SQ222, came within 78,000 km of >Earth's surface in late September. While 2003 XJ7 will miss by almost >twice this distance, it is a much larger body -- perhaps 20 meters >across. > >Because 2003 XJ7 could be potentially hazardous to Earth at some >future approach, refining knowledge of its orbit is urgent before it >becomes lost in solar glare during the early hours of December 7th >(UT). Experienced amateurs who can make astrometric measurements >should submit them to the Minor Planet Center -- but you haven't got >much time! Southern Europe and Africa may be the last places on Earth >from which the object can be imaged as it recedes. > >For the next few hours, the ephemeris below gives the asteroid's rough >equinox-2000.0 right ascension and declination, distance from Earth, >and visual magnitude. But because it is passing so close, it can >appear shifted as much as 2 degrees by parallax. Would-be observers >should use the Minor Planet Center's online Ephemeris Service to >obtain its exact trajectory as seen from their own geographical >location. > >Roger W. Sinnott >Senior Editor >SKY & TELESCOPE > >================================================ >2003 UT R.A. Decl. Delta Mag. > h h m o a.u. >Dec 6 15 06 14 +28.6 0.0019 13.9 >Dec 6 16 06 24 +21.3 0.0016 13.5 >Dec 6 17 06 36 +10.4 0.0013 13.3 >Dec 6 18 06 54 -05.9 0.0011 13.3 >Dec 6 19 07 19 -27.2 0.0010 13.6 >Dec 6 20 07 58 -48.5 0.0011 14.5 >Dec 6 21 08 59 -63.8 0.0013 15.5 >Dec 6 22 10 32 -72.1 0.0016 16.6 >Dec 6 23 12 18 -74.9 0.0019 17.5 >Dec 7 00 13 42 -74.6 0.0022 18.2 > > >================================================================== >AstroAlert is a free service of SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential >Magazine of Astronomy
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This e-mail was >sent to AstroAlert subscribers. If you feel you received it in error, >or to unsubscribe from AstroAlert, please send a plain- text e-mail to > snipped-for-privacy@SkyandTelescope.com with the following line -- and nothing >else -- in the body of the message: unsubscribe asteroid > snipped-for-privacy@address.com replacing " snipped-for-privacy@address.com" with your actual >e-mail address. >==================================================================

No 220-pound thug can threaten the well-being or dignity of a 110-pound woman who has two pounds of iron to even things out. Is that evil? Is that wrong? People who object to weapons aren't abolishing violence, they're begging for the rule of brute force, when the biggest, strongest animals among men were always automatically "right". Guns end that, and social democracy is a hollow farce without an armed populace to make it work. - L. Neil Smith

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