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10/15/2018 – Ephemeris – The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 is exploring the asteroid Ryugu.

October 15, 2018 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Monday, October 15th. The Sun will rise at 7:58. It’ll be up for 11 hours even, setting at 6:58. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 11:43 this evening.

The Japanese asteroid sample return mission Hayabusa2 is in the midst of operations at the near-earth asteroid Ryugu. It dropped three rovers that hopped across its surface and later this month will take the first of three samples. Hayabusa means peregrine falcon in Japanese. It will stay at the asteroid until late next year, it then will make a year-long trip back to the Earth, landing in the Outback of Australia. NASA’s own OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission is currently approaching the near-earth asteroid Bennu. It will orbit the asteroid for over a year and can make up to three attempts to take a sample of the asteroid for return to Earth. It is to land at the Utah Test and Training Range in September of 2023.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Hayabusa2 dropping a rover onto Ryugu
An artist’s rendering of Hayabusa2 dropping a rover onto Ryugu. Credit: JAXA/Akihiro Ikeshita.
Ryugu surface
A Hayabusa2 rover captured the surface of Ryugu mid-hop. Credit: JAXA.
OSIRIS-REx at Bennu
Artist’s view of OSIRIS-REx attempting to get a sample from Bennu. Credit: NASA.
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11/02/2017 – Ephemeris – Interstellar asteroid discovered passing through the solar system

November 2, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, November 2nd. The Sun will rise at 8:21. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 6:29. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 7:21 tomorrow morning.

Apparently an interloper has entered the solar system. No, it’s not Nibiru, unless Nibiru is only 525 feet (160 meters) across. It’s name, for now, is A/2017 U1. It’s official name, when it gets one, will be given to this new class of asteroids.. It’s on a hyperbolic trajectory, meaning it won’t be back. We know there are rogue planets, kicked out of their star systems, so why not asteroids and comets? It had an interstellar space velocity relative to the Sun of 15.8 miles per second (25.5 km/s) coming from the direction of the constellation of Lyra. Interestingly that’s the direction the Sun is traveling toward relative to our neighboring stars at nearly the same speed. Maybe it didn’t so much as to run into us, but the Sun and our solar system ran into it!

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

A/2017 U1

Asteroid A/2017 U1 orbit animation. Click to enlarge. Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech.

This body was discovered because it came close to the Earth.  There are probably many of them passing through the solar system  that never come close enough to be found.

Here’s a link: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/small-asteroid-or-comet-visits-from-beyond-the-solar-system

09/13/2016 – Ephemeris

September 13, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 13th.  The Sun will rise at 7:19.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 36 minutes, setting at 7:56.  The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 4:40 tomorrow morning.

Last Thursday evening an Atlas V rocket lifted off with NASA’s only interplanetary mission this year.  The spacecraft called by one of NASA’s tortured acronyms OSIRIS-Rex is on its way to the asteroid Bennu, which was discovered in 1999, and named by a 3rd grader in a contest.  Bennu is an Egyptian deity resembling a heron and also resembling the spacecraft.  OSIRIS-Rex will take two years to reach the small asteroid, orbit it for two years mapping it in great detail and will approach to retrieve a sample.  It will take 3 years to return the sample to the Earth in 2023.  Bennu is interesting because it contains organic compounds from the origin of the solar system and because of the tiny chance it could hit the Earth in 200 years or so.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

OSIRIS-REXx

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft with its sampler boom extended.

Categories: Asteroid, Equinox, NASA

09/15/15 – Ephemeris – Not another hoax again: This one’s a supposed asteroid collision

September 15, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 15th.  The Sun will rise at 7:21.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 7:53.   The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 9:02 this evening.

There is a bogus prediction from the Internet that been circulating for a month or so.  I missed it until a couple of days ago because I visit reputable astronomical web sites.  I check near earth asteroids on spaceweather.com, and there is nothing known as of now that’s 22 meters of larger in size that will come within 2 million miles of the Earth this month.  The dead giveaway that this prediction is bogus is the fact that the impact point is specific, near Puerto Rico, but the impact time is vague, between  the 15th and 28th of September.  An object orbiting the Sun, like the Earth travels at 18 and a half miles a second give or take, the asteroid at a comparable velocity, so the impact time would have to be known to the second.  On top of the Earth’s position, it also rotates

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Here is a link to NASA’s JPL on the subject.

NASA isn’t the only authority on asteroid orbits and positions.  The Minor Planet Center is part of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), and currently operated under a grant from NASA is the clearinghouse for asteroid positions and orbits. Some discoveries and positions  are supplied by amateur astronomers who aren’t beholden to any government, so there isn’t any conspiracy to keep the knowledge from the public.

 

 

03/30/2015 – Ephemeris – The importance of meteorites and asteroids

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, March 30th.  The Sun will rise at 7:27.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 39 minutes, setting at 8:07.   The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 5:33 tomorrow morning.

On Friday the 3rd Joe Brooks will be giving a talk at the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society on meteorites.  That will be at 8 p.m. at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory.  NASA has the Dawn spacecraft now settling into orbit of the largest asteroid Ceres.  It is the asteroid belt that is the source of meteorites.  Meteorites are either pieces of destroyed protoplanets due to collisions in the asteroid belt or primitive objects like carbonaceous chondrites pristine that date back to 4.567 billion years ago, the formation of the solar system.  Meteorites tend to be contaminated by the environment.  That’s why samples of asteroids will be so valuable for planetary defense and understanding the origin of the solar system.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Vesta as Dawn headed off to Ceres.

Looking back at Vesta as Dawn headed off to Ceres. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA

Ceres 2/19/15

The bright spot is two. Picture taken February 19, 2015 from 29,000 miles (46,700 km). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

03/06/2015 – Ephemeris – Learn about this year’s adventures in exploring the soiar system tonight

March 6, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, March 6th.  The Sun will rise at 7:12.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 6:36.   The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 7:47 this evening.

This evening yours truly will be giving a program at the monthly meeting of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society at 8 p.m. at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory.  It’s entitled Asteroids and Dwarf Planets and Comets, oh my!  It’s about the three solar system bodies being visited this year by spacecraft from NASA and the European Space Agency.  The asteroid is Ceres, which the Dawn spacecraft entered orbit of today.  The dwarf planet is Pluto which is the target of a summer flyby by the New Horizon spacecraft.  The comet is 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko orbited by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft.  There will be a star party at 9 p.m. following the meeting.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Oh My!

Apologies to MGM.

Vesta as Dawn headed off to Ceres.

Looking back at Vesta as Dawn headed off to Ceres. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA

Ceres 2/19/15

The bright spot is two. Picture taken February 19, 2015 from 29,000 miles (46,700 km). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

New Horizons

Artist conception of the New Horizons spacecraft at Pluto. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

July 14th animation

An animation of Comet 67p/Churyumov–Gerasimenko rotation on July 14, 2014. The 30 pixel wide image has been smoothed. The Rotation rate is 1 rotation every 12.4 hours. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

03/03/2015 – Ephemeris – The bright spots on Ceres are still a mystery

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 3rd.  The Sun will rise at 7:17.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 6:32.   The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:30 tomorrow morning.

The Dawn spacecraft is approaching the asteroid Ceres.  It will be gently captured by Ceres on the 6th.  This as an update from the date I gave you yesterday.  Then the spacecraft will spiral closer and closer to the asteroid over the next few months.  There is a mystery spot on Ceres, a bright spot that was visible by the Hubble Space Telescope orbiting Earth.  As Dawn got close enough to resolve Ceres it too saw the bright spot.  As the spacecraft got even closer the spot showed to be smaller and smaller.  I thought it might be a crater that penetrated into Ceres icy interior.  But the latest image, taken February 19th shows that the bright spot has a companion spot, both inside a crater and still too small to resolve.  It’s still a mystery.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Ceres from Hubble

Hubble’s best photo of Ceres. Note the white spot near the top of the image. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Parker (Southwest Research Institute), P. Thomas (Cornell University), L. McFadden (University of Maryland, College Park), and M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScI)

White spot from Dawn

The white spot shows as Dawn approaches Ceres. Credit: NASA/JPL.

Ceres 2/19/15

The bright spot is two. Picture taken February 19, 2015 from 29,000 miles (46,700 km). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

This photo will be the best photo of the bright spots until the end of April, an Dawn maneuvers over the night side of Ceres.

On March 2nd NASA held a Dawn Mission Pre- Close Approach News Briefing which can be found on YouTube.

Categories: Asteroid, NASA Tags: , ,