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A New Asteroid
A New Asteroid
13 Nov 2002
(Source: Sky & Telescope)


This Is Sky & Telescope's AstroAlert for Minor Planets
NEW ATEN ASTEROID 2002 VE68

On November 11th, Brian Skiff of Lowell Observatory's LONEOS program discovered a fast-moving object heading southwest through northern Pisces. He was using the facility's 0.59-meter (23-inch) Schmidt telescope and CCD detector. Within 12 hours, Markus Griesser near Zurich, Switzerland, obtained additional measurements with Eschenberg Observatory's 0.40-meter telescope. That was enough for Timothy B. Spahr of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to compute a preliminary orbit and announce the find on MPEC 2002-V52, where it is given the temporary designation 2002 VE68. This turns out to be an Aten-type asteroid (one circling the Sun in less than 1 year) that has briefly strayed outside the Earth's orbit.

At 14th magnitude and now fading, this is one of the brightest asteroids to be discovered in recent months. It can easily be imaged with 0.2-meter (8-inch) and larger CCD-equipped telescopes. Spahr's initial orbit shows it to have a revolution period very similar to that of Venus (7.4 months). It is traveling in an elongated path that takes it almost as close to the Sun as Mercury's distance, and then out to just beyond that of the Earth. The Minor Planet Center has classified it as a potentially hazardous object (PHA), although it poses no danger to Earth in the foreseeable future.

"We are planning to observe 2002 VE68 with radar at Goldstone on November 14 and 15," writes Lance Benner (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in a message posted November 12th to the Minor Planet Mailing List (MPML). Benner urges astrometric observers to continue measuring its position, adding, "Lightcurves are also very important and could facilitate reconstructing this object's three-dimensional shape."

Lenka Sarounova (Ondrejov Observatory, Czech Republic) reports to the MPML that she observed it for four hours on November 12-13. "The amplitude is at least 0.8 mag ... It is a rather small body so the period determination would be very interesting." (Visit the MPML's home page at http://www.bitnik.com/mp for information on how to subscribe to that list.)

The ephemeris below, adapted from the Ephemeris Service of the Minor Planet Center (http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/mpc.html}, gives the object's right ascension and declination (equinox 2000.0) at hourly intervals, Universal Time, during the next few days. Also listed are its distance from the Earth (Delta) and Sun (r) in astronomical units (where 1 a.u. is about 149,600,000 kilometers), its predicted magnitude, and its motion in arcseconds per minute.

Keep in mind that these are geocentric positions. Parallax could displace the object, as seen from a given observatory, by up to about 3 arcminutes from the positions listed. (If the numbers in the columns don't line up properly, reset your e-mail program to a fixed-width type font like Courier.)

Roger W. Sinnott
Senior Editor
Sky & Telescope


MINOR PLANET 2002 VE68

Date (UT) R.A. Dec. Delta r Mag. Motion
mo dy hr h m o ' a.u. a.u. (V) ("/min)

Nov 13 00 00 35.6 +15 32 0.038 1.020 14.6 16.09
Nov 13 01 00 35.1 +15 18 0.038 1.020 14.6 16.01
Nov 13 02 00 34.5 +15 04 0.038 1.020 14.6 15.92
Nov 13 03 00 34.0 +14 50 0.038 1.020 14.7 15.84
Nov 13 04 00 33.4 +14 37 0.039 1.020 14.7 15.75
Nov 13 05 00 32.9 +14 23 0.039 1.020 14.7 15.66
Nov 13 06 00 32.3 +14 10 0.039 1.020 14.7 15.58
Nov 13 07 00 31.8 +13 56 0.039 1.020 14.7 15.49
Nov 13 08 00 31.3 +13 43 0.039 1.020 14.7 15.41
Nov 13 09 00 30.7 +13 29 0.039 1.020 14.7 15.32
Nov 13 10 00 30.2 +13 16 0.039 1.020 14.7 15.24
Nov 13 11 00 29.7 +13 03 0.039 1.020 14.7 15.15
Nov 13 12 00 29.2 +12 50 0.039 1.020 14.8 15.07
Nov 13 13 00 28.7 +12 37 0.040 1.020 14.8 14.98
Nov 13 14 00 28.2 +12 24 0.040 1.020 14.8 14.90
Nov 13 15 00 27.7 +12 11 0.040 1.020 14.8 14.81
Nov 13 16 00 27.2 +11 58 0.040 1.020 14.8 14.73
Nov 13 17 00 26.7 +11 45 0.040 1.020 14.8 14.64
Nov 13 18 00 26.2 +11 33 0.040 1.020 14.8 14.56
Nov 13 19 00 25.7 +11 20 0.040 1.020 14.8 14.47
Nov 13 20 00 25.2 +11 08 0.040 1.020 14.9 14.39
Nov 13 21 00 24.7 +10 55 0.040 1.020 14.9 14.31
Nov 13 22 00 24.2 +10 43 0.041 1.020 14.9 14.22
Nov 13 23 00 23.8 +10 30 0.041 1.020 14.9 14.14

Date (UT) R.A. Dec. Delta r Mag. Motion
mo dy hr h m o ' a.u. a.u. (V) ("/min)

Nov 14 00 00 23.3 +10 18 0.041 1.020 14.9 14.06
Nov 14 01 00 22.8 +10 06 0.041 1.020 14.9 13.97
Nov 14 02 00 22.4 +09 54 0.041 1.020 14.9 13.89
Nov 14 03 00 21.9 +09 42 0.041 1.020 14.9 13.81
Nov 14 04 00 21.4 +09 30 0.041 1.020 14.9 13.73
Nov 14 05 00 21.0 +09 18 0.041 1.020 15.0 13.64
Nov 14 06 00 20.6 +09 06 0.041 1.020 15.0 13.56
Nov 14 07 00 20.1 +08 54 0.042 1.020 15.0 13.48
Nov 14 08 00 19.7 +08 42 0.042 1.020 15.0 13.40
Nov 14 09 00 19.2 +08 31 0.042 1.020 15.0 13.32
Nov 14 10 00 18.8 +08 19 0.042 1.020 15.0 13.24
Nov 14 11 00 18.3 +08 08 0.042 1.020 15.0 13.16
Nov 14 12 00 17.9 +07 56 0.042 1.020 15.0 13.08
Nov 14 13 00 17.5 +07 45 0.042 1.020 15.1 13.00
Nov 14 14 00 17.1 +07 33 0.042 1.020 15.1 12.92
Nov 14 15 00 16.6 +07 22 0.043 1.020 15.1 12.84
Nov 14 16 00 16.2 +07 11 0.043 1.020 15.1 12.76
Nov 14 17 00 15.8 +07 00 0.043 1.020 15.1 12.68
Nov 14 18 00 15.4 +06 49 0.043 1.020 15.1 12.61
Nov 14 19 00 15.0 +06 38 0.043 1.020 15.1 12.53
Nov 14 20 00 14.6 +06 27 0.043 1.020 15.1 12.45
Nov 14 21 00 14.2 +06 16 0.043 1.019 15.1 12.38
Nov 14 22 00 13.8 +06 05 0.044 1.019 15.2 12.30
Nov 14 23 00 13.4 +05 54 0.044 1.019 15.2 12.22

Date (UT) R.A. Dec. Delta r Mag. Motion
mo dy hr h m o ' a.u. a.u. (V) ("/min)

Nov 15 00 00 13.0 +05 44 0.044 1.019 15.2 12.15
Nov 15 01 00 12.6 +05 33 0.044 1.019 15.2 12.07
Nov 15 02 00 12.2 +05 23 0.044 1.019 15.2 12.00
Nov 15 03 00 11.8 +05 12 0.044 1.019 15.2 11.92
Nov 15 04 00 11.4 +05 02 0.044 1.019 15.2 11.85
Nov 15 05 00 11.0 +04 51 0.044 1.019 15.2 11.77
Nov 15 06 00 10.7 +04 41 0.045 1.019 15.3 11.70
Nov 15 07 00 10.3 +04 31 0.045 1.019 15.3 11.63
Nov 15 08 00 09.9 +04 21 0.045 1.019 15.3 11.56
Nov 15 09 00 09.5 +04 11 0.045 1.019 15.3 11.48
Nov 15 10 00 09.2 +04 00 0.045 1.019 15.3 11.41
Nov 15 11 00 08.8 +03 51 0.045 1.019 15.3 11.34
Nov 15 12 00 08.4 +03 41 0.045 1.019 15.3 11.27
Nov 15 13 00 08.1 +03 31 0.046 1.019 15.3 11.20
Nov 15 14 00 07.7 +03 21 0.046 1.019 15.3 11.13
Nov 15 15 00 07.4 +03 11 0.046 1.019 15.4 11.06
Nov 15 16 00 07.0 +03 02 0.046 1.019 15.4 10.99
Nov 15 17 00 06.7 +02 52 0.046 1.019 15.4 10.92
Nov 15 18 00 06.3 +02 42 0.046 1.019 15.4 10.85
Nov 15 19 00 06.0 +02 33 0.046 1.019 15.4 10.78
Nov 15 20 00 05.6 +02 24 0.047 1.019 15.4 10.71
Nov 15 21 00 05.3 +02 14 0.047 1.019 15.4 10.65
Nov 15 22 00 05.0 +02 05 0.047 1.019 15.4 10.58
Nov 15 23 00 04.6 +01 56 0.047 1.019 15.4 10.51

Date (UT) R.A. Dec. Delta r Mag. Motion
mo dy hr h m o ' a.u. a.u. (V) ("/min)

Nov 16 00 00 04.3 +01 46 0.047 1.019 15.5 10.45
Nov 16 01 00 03.9 +01 37 0.047 1.019 15.5 10.38
Nov 16 02 00 03.6 +01 28 0.047 1.019 15.5 10.32
Nov 16 03 00 03.3 +01 19 0.048 1.019 15.5 10.25
Nov 16 04 00 03.0 +01 10 0.048 1.019 15.5 10.19
Nov 16 05 00 02.6 +01 01 0.048 1.019 15.5 10.12
Nov 16 06 00 02.3 +00 52 0.048 1.019 15.5 10.06
Nov 16 07 00 02.0 +00 44 0.048 1.019 15.5 9.99
Nov 16 08 00 01.7 +00 35 0.048 1.019 15.5 9.93
Nov 16 09 00 01.4 +00 26 0.048 1.019 15.6 9.87
Nov 16 10 00 01.0 +00 17 0.049 1.019 15.6 9.81
Nov 16 11 00 00.7 +00 09 0.049 1.019 15.6 9.75
Nov 16 12 00 00.4 +00 00 0.049 1.018 15.6 9.68
Nov 16 13 00 00.1 -00 08 0.049 1.018 15.6 9.62
Nov 16 14 23 59.8 -00 17 0.049 1.018 15.6 9.56
Nov 16 15 23 59.5 -00 25 0.049 1.018 15.6 9.50
Nov 16 16 23 59.2 -00 33 0.049 1.018 15.6 9.44
Nov 16 17 23 58.9 -00 42 0.050 1.018 15.6 9.38
Nov 16 18 23 58.6 -00 50 0.050 1.018 15.7 9.32
Nov 16 19 23 58.3 -00 58 0.050 1.018 15.7 9.27
Nov 16 20 23 58.0 -01 06 0.050 1.018 15.7 9.21
Nov 16 21 23 57.7 -01 14 0.050 1.018 15.7 9.15
Nov 16 22 23 57.4 -01 22 0.050 1.018 15.7 9.09
Nov 16 23 23 57.2 -01 30 0.051 1.018 15.7 9.04
Date (UT) R.A. Dec. Delta r Mag. Motion
mo dy hr h m o ' a.u. a.u. (V) ("/min)

Nov 17 00 23 56.9 -01 38 0.051 1.018 15.7 8.98
Nov 17 01 23 56.6 -01 46 0.051 1.018 15.7 8.92
Nov 17 02 23 56.3 -01 54 0.051 1.018 15.7 8.87
Nov 17 03 23 56.0 -02 02 0.051 1.018 15.8 8.81


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Last Updated: 14 Nov 2002