Welcome to the website of the
Asteroids and Remote Planets Section
The aim of the Section is to offer something of interest to active, virtual and armchair observers, e.g.; visual telescopic observing, imaging using your own equipment (photographic, CCD, webcam), remote observing, working with on-line resources, orbital studies, the impact hazard, the history of discovery and observation, as well as keeping up-to-date on the findings of the latest space missions to these minor bodies. Please report your observations of asteroids to the ARPS Director at the following e-mail address: email@example.com
A gallery comprising all observing reports received to date can be reached via the following thumbnail:
The following UK-based observers have obtained images, submitted reports, videos, etc.:
Peter Birtwhistle, Damian Peach, Nick Quinn, Richard Fleet, Ian Sharp and David Briggs from southern England, Peter Carson from Essex, Martin Willock from York, Steve Johnston in central England (visual, remarking on its orangish hue), Jay Tate from Spaceguard UK, mid-Wales, Dave Storey from Isle of Man, Roy Tillcock from Isle of Wight, David Strange and Steve Bullen from south-west England, Robin Leadbeater (who also obtained a spectrum of the object!), Ray Emery and Alex Pratt from northern England, Denis Buczynski from Scotland, and Kieran Rooney from N. Ireland. Also animation courtesy of Bill Ward available.
Many observers at the Norman Lockyer Observatory and the Hampshire Astronomical Group at Clanfield succeeded in seeing it visually. You can also connect to the observations which have already been posted on the Web by clicking on the name of the observer indicated in blue font above.
Unlike the bolide seen and felt in the Urals earlier the same day, the dramatic passage of near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 had been forecast one year in advance thanks to it having been discovered last February by amateur astronomers at the La Sagra Sky Survey in Spain (MPC Code J75).
Reaching 7th magnitude, it is the brightest-ever NEO to be observed approaching the vicinity of our planet (<0.1 AU) and visible with modest telescopic aid, e.g. binoculars. 2012 DA14 passed about 14x closer to the Earth than our companion Moon. To put this in perspective, scientists at NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office in Pasadena, California estimate that an asteroid the size of 2012 DA14 flies this close every 40 years on average and that one will impact Earth, on average, about once in every 1,200 years!
Nick James and Dominic Ford had organised and undertaken a live webcast of the 2012 DA14 close-approach, by periodically updating live images from a small telescope with a field of view of around 1 degree. Unfortunately cloudy skies have dogged the attempt with just the occasional star or two being visible from time to time. The animation generally showed only passing clouds. This new facility should however prove useful as the BAA should now be able to furnish live webcasts of interesting celestial events in the future.
A challenge for observers was suggested:- that was to pick a site where you have a low eastern horizon and try and image the fast-mover as soon as possible after it rises. The further east your location the better chance you would have had. There'll be a prize for anyone observing from the UK who records the earliest image of 2012 DA14 !
WINNER: is David Briggs who secured his first image using the 24" telescope of the Hampshire Astronomical Group at 20:05 UT when the asteroid was just 8 degrees above the horizon.
A small asteroid entered the Earth's atmosphere about 3:20 UT on 2013 Feb 15 over the Urals in Russia, exploding with the energy equivalent in the range of 0.1-0.3 megaton TNT, which makes it the most energetic such event since the Tunguska exposion of 1908 according to Dr Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario . The object was reported to have travelled from north-east to south-west and so there can be no possible association with 2012 DA14 since otherwise it would have to have approached from the south direction and headed almost directly northwards. These two objects are therefore totally unrelated. See for example this collection of videos and still photos.
I am currently looking at the Observing Programme of the section with a view to relaunching a range of options for members: from visual observational approaches to more advanced topics based on CCD imaging. If you have any suggestions or ideas then do please get in touch - I'd love to hear from you. Once this has been completed, I shall set up a new webpage ahead of my giving a talk on "The Observing Programme of the Asteroids and Remote Planets Section" at the Wednesday May 29th Ordinary Meeting of the Association, to be held at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0DU. The meeting starts at 5.30pm.
One new observing project will involve simultaneously imaging two asteroids in the same CCD field of view. One idea is to look for changes in the relative colours of the two bodies as they rotate. BAA member Eric Watkins has already started to check this approach out. Graham Relf of the Computing Section has just updated his Asteroid Appulses webpage with new predictions of objects brighter than mag 15 which approach closer than 6 arcmin during 2013 March-May of which there are 6 candidate pairs.
We held this very successful joint meeting with the BAA Comet Section on 2012 October 6 at the Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
The Meeting Report is now available which includes links to seven of the presentations.
Nick James has kindly provided mp3 sound and jpeg copies of the slides shown by each speaker on the day in the form of zipped files available here.
(photo: David Briggs)
(left to right: S. Duddy, G. Williams, L. Buzzi, S. Lowry, G. Relf, R. Dymock, R. Miles, S. Green, E. Ansbro, J. Shanklin and N. James
The News archive can be accessed here
The What to observe page lists many different aspects of observing and imaging together with current projects as well as ephemerides and other useful information from the current 2013 Handbook of the BAA.