Sunday, February 22, 2015

OT: An update on Near Earth Asteroid 2015 CA40

2015 CA40, the Amor Near Earth Asteroid discovered by Krisztián Sárneczky and me with the 0.60-m Schmidt telescope of MPC 461 Piszkéstetö (Konkoly) in Hungary on Feb 15, 2015 (see previous post) has now been observed for a week.

The animated GIF above shows the asteroid zipping through the FOV of the 0.61-m Cassegrain telescope of MPC G68 Sierra Stars Observatory in Markleeville, USA, in the morning of Feb 21. It was made from 5 images of 30 seconds exposure each, separated by 5 minutes each. A single frame from this sequence (taken 21 Feb 2015 at 09:45 UT) is below. Even at a relatively short exposure of 30 seconds, the asteroid has trailed:

With an observational arc of over 6 days, the orbital solution already is much better than it was when the discovery MPEC was issued. A number of observatories have now contributed to the observations. As of 22 February, these included, apart from our observatory MPC 461 Piszkéstetö (Konkoly):

246 Klet obs. KLENOT
703 Catalina Sky Survey
C47 Nonndorf
F65 Haleakala-Faulkes Telescope North
G68 Sierra Stars Observatory, Markleeville
J69 North observatory, Clanfield

J95 Great Shefford

The G68 observations are 'remote' observations by myself (see images above) on Feb 21.

Current orbital elements (source MPC, MPEC 2015-D57 of Feb 22):

Epoch 2014 Dec. 9.0      TT = JDT 2457000.5 
M 298.04783 (2000.0) 
n 0.84852056     Peri. 176.17901      T = 2457073.51198 JDT 
a 1.1049971      Node 334.93125       q = 1.0043903 
e 0.0910471      Incl. 15.04633  
P 1.16           H 24.5             Earth MOID = 0.01551 AU

From 104 observations 2015 Feb. 15-21, mean residual 0".54.

When we discovered 2015 CA40 on Feb 15 it was at 15.6 lunar distances. Tomorrow near 21:48 UT (Feb 23, 2015) it will have its closest approach, to 6.3 lunar distances. In the days following this it will move out of view of the Northern hemisphere, but I hope to be able to follow it a few days using the 50-cm telescope of MPC Q65 Warrumbungle Observatory in Australia.

NASA has placed 2015 CA40 on the NHATS page. This page lists objects in orbits suitable for potential future crewed space missions. NHATS stands for Near-Earth Object Human Space Flight Accessible Targets Study.

Last but not least, a picture of the 0.60-m Schmidt telescope at MPC 461 Piszkéstetö (Konkoly) in Hungary with which we discovered the asteroid (image Krisztián Sárneczky/Miclós Rácz):

For those able to read Hungarian (or use Google Translate), a nice story about the discovery in Hungarian is here. Stories in Dutch are here, here and here (and of course my previous blogpost).

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