An unusually large Near-Earth Object, 2012 LZ1 has just been discovered by Rob McNaught and colleagues on 2012 June 10/11 using the 0.5-m Uppsala Schmidt telescope at Siding Spring, Australia as reported in MPEC 2012-L30 issued on June 12 09:30 UT.
The newly-discovered NEO is approximately 300-700 metres in size (H=19.7) and makes its closest approach of 0.036 AU (about 14 lunar-distances) on June 15.0 UT. The object will be visible from the UK near closest approach rather low down in a south-eastly direction and may be best seen before dawn (around 01:00-02:00 UT) on Friday, June 15 as an asteroidal object, magnitude 13.9 or so, moving at an apparent speed of about 38 “/min at an altitude of roughly 25 degrees above the horizon.
BAA Member Martin Mobberley captured these images using a remote telescope in New Mexico.
Unusually too, although moving in an orbit inclined at 26 degrees, its motion is quite commensurate with that of the Earth at the moment and so the object will remain visible from the UK on many successive nights as it moves further northwards.
During the next ten days, the declination, brightness and apparent speed will be as follows:
June 14/15 Decl. -15 V=13.9 38″/min
June 15/16 Decl. +01 V=14.2 36 “/min
June 16/17 Decl. +13 V=14.6 30 “/min
June 17/18 Decl. +23 V=15.1 23 “/min
June 18/19 Decl. +31 V=15.6 18 “/min
June 19/20 Decl. +37 V=16.0 13 “/min
June 20/21 Decl. +42 V=16.4 10 “/min
June 21/22 Decl. +46 V=16.7 8 “/min
June 22/23 Decl. +49 V=17.0 7 “/min
Note that the summer solstice this year occurs on June 20 at 23h UT at which time this object will be visible from the UK in a westerly direction at an altitude of some 54 degrees.
Given its size and proximity to the Earth, 2012 LZ1 is the latest potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) discovered.
Congratulations to Rob McNaught on this particular find which was conducted as part of the Siding Spring Survey; an NEO search program, the southern hemisphere counterpart of the Catalina Sky survey.
Sky coordinates for finding this new visitor to the Earth’s neighbourhood can be obtained from the Minor Planet Center’s ephemeris service at:
Remember to enter a suitable Observatory Code in the online form to achieve a satisfactory topocentric prediction. For the UK, you might wish to use the Code for Greenwich namely ‘000′.
Observers are encouraged to report astrometry to the Minor Planet Center.
Please report photometry to the nearest 0.01 mag to Richard Miles, Director, Asteroids and Remote Planets Section, British Astronomical Association
arps [at] britastro.org
Pictures of the Transit are arriving from members of the BAA. Although the weather was generally poor a surprising number of members managed some sort of view of the event.
If you saw the Transit, please send your observations to the Venus section (firstname.lastname@example.org) and to our Picture Editor (email@example.com) for our Transit Gallery.
Here are a couple of pictures from Peter Edwards and Maurice Gavin.
I got up at 4.30am BST, the sky was promising but there was clouds low down in the NE where the sun was rising. Still I stayed out, took a few photos of horses in the next field to me and a few cloud pics, then suddenly at around 05.35 BST the Sun broke through for a couple of minutes between the clouds and I managed to capture the attached image. I did manage to get two images, but this was the best one. The clouds actually add a bit of atmosphere (no pun etc). The image was taken with a Canon SX210 compact camera at max x14 zoom on a tripod, I think the exposure was 1/1250 sec at f/ 5.9 so I am doubly pleased to have got such a sharp image. I enlarged, cropped and tweaked in Photoshop.
You can also watch Maurice’s video on YouTube: Maurice Gavin