Spacewatch Discoveries

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NEO Detections and Discoveries

Outer Solar System Objects- Comets, Centaurs, SDOs, and TNOs discovered by Spacewatch.

A Timeline of Interesting Spacewatch Observations:

2003 September 20 - 2003 SW130 discovered. As of 2003 November 6, this object is the smallest asteroid detected by Spacewatch and designated by the MPC. Click here for more details.

2000 November 28 - Discovery of Varuna(2000 WR106) . At 900 kilometers in diameter, Varuna is among the largest Trans-Neptunian objects after the planet Pluto and its satellite Charon.

2000 May 1 - Long-lost asteroid (719) Albert rediscovered by Spacewatch.

2000 January 28 - Discovery of 2000 BF19. This NEO had a potential of colliding with the Earth in 2022.

1998 May 28 - 1998 KY26 discovered. This NEO had the fastest rotation known for any asteroid at that time.

1997 December 6 - Discovery of 1997 XF11. This FMO was predicted to pass within 950,000 kilometers of Earth on 2028 October 26. Early predictions suggested an approach to within only 45,000 kilometers, but observations from 1990 were found which allowed improved estimates and a much more generous miss distance.

1996 December 12 - 1996 XB27 discovered. As of 2002 July 28, this was the only NEO with a multiple-opposition orbit that had the orbital elements that are most favorable for frequent low deltaV (< 5 km/s) rendezvous by spacecraft (eccentricity less than 0.1, inclination less than 5 degrees, and synodic period less than 5 years).

1995 February 3 - Discovery of 1995 CR, a FMO, which came close enough to be captured on video in real time at Kitt Peak.

1994 December 9 - As 1994 XM1 came within 105,000 km of the earth - a record close approach - Spacewatch discovered this VFMO.

1993 May 21 - 1993 KA2discovered. This NEO passed within 150,000 km of the Earth.

1992 January 9 - (5145) Pholus (1992 AD) has a perihelion just inside Saturn's orbit and aphelion outside Neptune's. Pholus was the second of the Centaurs discovered and eight additional ones have been discovered since by Spacewatch. The second Centaur found by Spacewatch was numbered and named as (7066) Nessus (1993 HA2). Centaur 1995 SN55 is the intrinsically brightest Centaur yet discovered, brighter even than Chiron, the first Centaur ever discovered. The orbits of these bodies are unstable and easily perturbed while passing by the giant planets. Consequently the possibility exists for them to be either ejected from the solar system or nudged towards the inner planets in the future. They may be the direct progenitors of the short-period comets and must be fed from a source region such as the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt or the Oort Cloud.

1991 November 6 - 1991 VG, an Arjuna object was discovered. It was recovered in April of the following year at a magnitude of 22 V. We define an Arjuna type asteroid as one with a nearly Earth-like orbit.

1991 January 18 - Spacewatch discovered its first "Very Fast Moving Object" (VFMO), 1991 BA, a 5-10 meter oject which passed by the Earth with barely 170,000 km to spare. This occurred during the first Gulf War when an airburst of an incoming meteoroid could have appeared as a discharge of a nuclear weapon, possibly triggering a retaliatory strike by a combatant nation.

1990 November 9 - (5590) 1990 VA marked the first Aten type asteroid - whose orbital period is less than 1 year - discovered by Spacewatch.

1990 September 5 - First automated discovery of an NEO was (11885) 1990 SS.

1989 October 27 - David Rabinowitz makes the first discovery of an NEO (1989 UP) with a CCD in the course of preliminary checkout and familiarization with our Tektronix 2048x2048 CCD.

Asteroid Detections and Designations
(as of 2005 Feb 22)

The plot shows the cumulative number of asteroids detected with the Spacewatch 0.9-m telescope.

Last update: 2005 Feb 22

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