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(7102) NEILBONE = 1936 NB


The following citation honouring Meteor Section director, Neil Bone was published by the Minor Planet Center in February:


Discovered in 1936 July 12 by C. Jackson at Johannesburg.Neil Bone (b. 1959), a British observer and author of several books, founded the Aurora Section of what is now the Society for Popular Astronomy in 1981 and became director of the British Astronomical Association's Meteor Section in 1992. He also compiles the "Society News" notes for Astronomy Now.


The observational circumstances of the original discovery are particularly interesting in that the asteroid was found by Yorkshire-born professional astronomer, Cyril Jackson working at the Union Observatory, Johannesburg.At the time of discovery, the minor planet was just 4 days ahead of an especially favourable close approach to the Earth (Delta = 1.296 AU) when it reached magnitude 14.3.Jackson was able to photograph the object on five nights spread over two lunations and reported it as being of magnitude 13, but then it was Ďlostí for some 49 years before being recovered on 1985 July 17 from Klet Observatory in the Czech Republic.


The characteristics of (7102) Neilbone are very unusual for a main-belt asteroid in that its orbit is quite eccentric (e = 0.253) (no reflection on Neil, I might add!) and it is inclined almost 19 degrees to the ecliptic (i = 18.66 deg).This means the object spends the majority of its time in the outer region of the Main Belt (aphelion distance = 3.864 AU) before passing through perihelion at 2.305 AU once every 5.42 years.The nearest possible approach to the Earth is 1.292 AU whereas near aphelion it can be almost 5.0 AU distant.Without knowing its reflectivity or albedo, it is difficult to estimate its physical size, which may be in the range 10-30 km.


The objectís rotational characteristics are not known at present but the accompanying images made by ARPS member, Ron Arbour clearly show a significant dimming possibly amounting to more than 0.5 magnitudes over an interval of 44 minutes indicative of it being fairly elongated and quite a fast rotator.


I was delighted to hear the news that Neilís contribution to astronomyhas been recognised by way of a low-numbered minor planet being named in his honour: very well-deserved indeed.


Richard Miles, Director

2009 March 8


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