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BACK AGAIN! February 9, 2012

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It’s been a busy two months. The end of one semester the beginning of a new semester, but I wanted to share a bit of good news for myself. I’m now official part of the solar system, While there have been some people who wished they could send me into orbit the picture,as you can see below, does not quite mean I’m there yet.

Image

It does mean I’ve just got an asteroid named after me! It’ s a main belt asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, with a maximum magnitude of 15. My thanks to Robert Holmes, director of the ARI observatory,  and an adjunct faculty member in the physics department at EIU, who discovered the asteroid and did the naming.

The official designation is 128925 Conwell or 2004 TJ70. You can see more information on this asteroid at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) site:

http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2004%20TJ70;orb=1;cov=0;log=0;cad=0#orb

NASA’s Latest Image of Asteroid 2005 YU55 November 8, 2011

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The Latest RADAR image of 2005YU55

This radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 was obtained on Nov. 7, 2011. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech.

The Slooh telescope will be hosting a live webcast of the flyby on Nov. 8, 2011. Find out more at the Slooh Events page. Keep track of the latest images gathered by astronomers at the Asteroid and Comet Watch website.

FROM the article at Universe today

SKY & TELESCOPE Article on Local Observatory November 4, 2011

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December 2011 Issue

The December Issue of Sky & Telescope has hit the newsstand this week. The feature article is on Bob Holmes, an adjunct professor in the Physics Department here at EIU.  Bob is director of the Astronomical Research Institute (ARI), a private research observatory about 15 miles away from Charleston. He is one of NASA’s principle people who does orbital measurements of Near Earth Object (NEOs). These are potentially hazardous asteroids that intersect near the Earth’s orbit. All done with telescopes that he BUILT! I’ll tell you next week about the his new 50″ telescope, with picture of the mount installation, that will be fully installed next year. It  make ARI the largest privately owned observatory in the world.

JOINT Astronomy Club SPS Talk TONIGHT! August 31, 2011

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Tonight at 5:00PM ,  in room 2153 of the physical science building, Tyler Linder will be giving a talk about his REU experience working at Northern Arizona University and Lowell Observatory.

Asteroid will be a “near miss” on June 27th of 2011 June 23, 2011

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(From NANCY ATKINSON at Universe Today):A newly discovered house-sized asteroid will miss the Earth by less than 17,700 km (11,000 miles) on Monday June 27, 2011. That’s about 23 times closer than the Moon. The size and location of the asteroid, named 2011 MD, should allow observers in certain locations to take a look at the space rock, even with small telescopes. It’s closest approach will be at 13:26 UTC on June 27.

According to Skymania, 2011 MD was found just yesterday, June 22, by LINEAR, a pair of robotic telescopes in New Mexico that scan the skies for Near Earth Asteroids.

As of now, asteroid 2011 MD is estimated to be between 9 to 45 meters (10 to 50 yards) wide. Dr. Emily Baldwin, of Astronomy Now magazine, said there is no danger of the asteroid hitting Earth, and even if it did enter the atmosphere, an asteroid this size would “mostly burn up in a brilliant fireball, possibly scattering a few meteorites.”

To find out updated information on 2011 MD’s ephemeris, physical parameters and more, including an orbit diagram and close-approach data, see this page on JPL’s Solar System Dynamics website.

According to Skymania, 2011 MD was found just yesterday, June 22, by LINEAR, a pair of robotic telescopes in New Mexico that scan the skies for Near Earth Asteroids.

As of now, asteroid 2011 MD is estimated to be between 9 to 45 meters (10 to 50 yards) wide. Dr. Emily Baldwin, of Astronomy Now magazine, said there is no danger of the asteroid hitting Earth, and even if it did enter the atmosphere, an asteroid this size would “mostly burn up in a brilliant fireball, possibly scattering a few meteorites.”

To find out updated information on 2011 MD’s ephemeris, physical parameters and more, including an orbit diagram and close-approach data, see this page on JPL’s Solar System Dynamics website.

NEW PODCAST: Probing the Kuiper Belt and Beyond June 17, 2011

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http://365daysofastronomy.org/2011/06/14/june-14th-probing-the-kuiper-belt-and-beyond/

Description: Meg and Brooke discuss what we have learned by studying the small planetesimals orbiting beyond Neptune in the Kuiper belt and beyond. In particular they discuss Sedna, a roughly Pluto-sized body on a highly eccentric orbit beyond Neptune that challenges our understanding of the solar system and suggests the presence of a distant icy population of bodies residing beyond the Kuiper belt. They discuss the possible origin of Sedna’s orbit and the search for more Sedna-like bodies.

Bio: Meg Schwamb is National Science Foundation (NSF) Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University’s Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (YCAA). As part of the La Silla-QUEST KBO Survey (http://hepwww.physics.yale.edu/lsqkbo), she is searching the southern skies for the largest and brightest members of the Kuiper belt and beyond, and studying the orbital and physical characteristics of these new discoveries. Meg is also studying the processes of planet formation and evolution as project scientist for Planet Hunters (www.planethunters.org), a citizen science project searching for the signatures of transiting exoplanets in the data collected by NASA’s Kepler mission.

Brooke Simmons is a researcher at the Yale Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics, studying the mechanisms by which black holes and galaxies co-evolve over cosmic time. Currently, her research focuses on extending our understanding of galaxies hosting actively growing supermassive black holes to a time when the universe was less than a quarter of its present age. Brooke is also actively involved in Galaxy Zoo (www.galaxyzoo.org), a citizen science project that invites the public to participate in forefront scientific research.

Summer is Here! June 14, 2011

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The end of the semester is over, and I now have  time to tell you about the wonderful astronomy we’ve been doing these last few months at the Physics Department Observatory  and in the region. Today let me show you a recent television segment that appeared last month on the TV show, Heartland Highways.

More videos from the EIU Physics department are on our YouTube channel.

Special thanks to Heartland Highways and the video office at Eastern.

New NEO Discovered From ARI, Charleston, IL. March 6, 2011

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2011 EB7 Credit JPL and J Conwell

NEO 2011 EB7 discovered on March 2, by  Astronomical Research Institute (ARI), in Charleston Illinois, is an AMOR Near Earth Object (NEO). AMOR’s are Earth-approaching NEAs with orbits exterior to Earth’s, but interior to Mars’ orbit, named after asteroid Amor 1221.Robert  Holmes, director of ARI, is an adjunct professor in the physics department at Eastern Illinois university.

2011 EB7  is currently 0.5 AU away from Earth. It also has a predicted orbital period of 2.42 years. The closest point of 2011 EB7 orbit is 0.16AU to Earth’s orbit. For more detailed information go to the JPL site:

http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2011+EB7&orb=1

Video of 2010 TD54 Near Miss Today. October 12, 2010

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Amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins captured images this morning of the newly found asteroid 2010 TD54 that passed byEarth about 27,000 miles away.  The  asteroid was only detected this past Saturday. The film, which was made form a composite of 16 still pictures with a  5 second exposure., show the asteroid passing  through the background sky, although moving along at 10.7 miles/s. Estimates are the asteroid is about 7.3 m wide, and contained the energy of about 22 kilotons of TNT, if it would have come crashing through Earth’s atmosphere. For this animation, the mount was set to allow the target to pass through the field of view, and includes 16 five-second exposures shot between 08:51:51 and 08:54:04 UTC. The streak is the asteroid and the length of the streak shows how far it travels relative to the background in 5 seconds.

UPDATE: October 12th Asteroid October 11, 2010

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UPDATE (FROM UNIVERSE TODAY): Don Yeomans, Manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office replied to an inquiry about the object and said the newly discovered NEO 2010 TD54 is approximately 5-10 meters in size, and is now predicted to pass about 46,000 km from Earth’s surface at about 07:25 EDT (11:25 UT) on Tuesday, Oct 12, 2010. It was discovered by Catalina Sky Survey on Saturday morning.

“Only 1 in a million chance of an impact,” Yeomans said, “and even if it does impact, it is not large enough to make it through the Earth’s atmosphere to cause ground damage.”

Sources: IAU Minor Planet Center, Unmanned Spaceflight,Yahoo News Groups