Rings!

It’s not often I can stake my claim to a first, but here is double one. First amateur to capture a Centaur (that’s an asteroid between Saturn and Neptune) occulting a star and also the first amateur to record the rings around an asteroid!

Charliko is the only known asteroid to have rings. They were discovered last year by a team of professional astronomers lead by Prof Bruno Sicardy who is a great friend to the amateur and whom provides us with great predictions so that we can help provide him data. This event was well attended by the Australian Occultation faithful and I recorded in somewhat difficult circumstances the event. Unfortunately I was the only person to capture it – the more ‘chords’ the better the scientific payload but Bruno assures me that the data will be added to the original observations and will significantly improve the positional data that we know about the rock.

And that is great news, because with better predictions, we can make even better observations in the future. Sweet.

Charliko_LMLC

Occultation by (552) Sigelinde

Here’s a neat event from tonight. This asteroid cast a 16.354 second shadow across Samford, and I caught it on video! The event was a little longer than expected and it is a poorly defined object. We learned that it is probably lozenge shaped rather than round and it disappeared gradually suggesting maybe an irregular protrusion (sticky-out bit!) at the leading edge.

2014 DX110

This one came from nowhere!

2014 DX110 was discovered only three days ago, and flew by tonight at less than a Moons distance from us. It is on the Possible Impactors list with an impact with Earth scheduled for 2046 – As we learn more, and refine the known orbit, we will hopefully remove it from the list!!!

Whilst it’s probably under 50m, I still would prefer to avoid it (if I live that long)

Sorry for the poor quality, it was a misty night and low in the North…

Iridium Flare over Samford

Ever seen an Iridium Flare?

The Iridium communications satellites turn their solar panels towards the sun at predictable times during their orbits and cause them to brighten dramatically for a few seconds as they pass.

I photographed this one this morning at 4am, not normally a time I’d be up, but the dog was demanding attention and then my Iridium flare app started screaming too! I took the camera out as well; this is the first time I have tried to capture one and am glad I did as the event was bright at mag -8 and passing high in the West.
So go find an app (there are plenty freebies) and have a look – they are very lovely to watch and happen every few days – Happy hunting!
Iridium_flare [For the photographers: Canon 650d, Samyang 14mm, ISO 400 for 30 seconds]

It’s Q79!

After a number of abortive attempts to get my observatory recognised officially by the Minor Planet Centre, the recent long spell of clear weather allowed me to make enough observations of several asteroids over a sufficient period of time to demonstrate an acceptable level of accuracy and Samford Valley Observatory now bears the code Q79. Hurrah.

This code will mean that I can send my observations directly to them rather than through third parties, and even better, can generate lists of expected positions of asteroids (more properly known as ephemerides) without having to enter my location each time, just the code.

Previous attempts to get a code had been scuppered by weather, weather and weather…

NASA Says ‘Thanks’

And I say ‘You’re Welcome!’

The supremely successful live feed of Asteroid 2012 DA14 which was broadcast throughout the night and culminated in a show on NASA TV attracted over 7 million views and was NASA’s most successful Webcast ever.

For my part, I streamed for around four hours continuously and by token of thanks the NASA Team sent me a certificate and goody bag. A lovely gesture and a great memento to celebrate a fantastic evening!

NASA Cert