Saturday 5 July 2008

2008 June notes: 2008 LA, 2008 LG2, 2008 LH2, 2008 LB, 2003 OB4

After a rather lack-lustre May, June provided the best stats I've logged for that month since my records started in 2002, with 16 at least partially usable nights and 47 hours at the telescope.

This time of year, activity on the NEO Confirmation Page is tailing off as the main NASA survey sites in the southern USA get closer to the summer monsoon season, even so, there were 22 new NEO discoveries announced and 9 of those were observed, with 2008 LA and 2008 LG2 being followed on 5 nights each and still being listed (July 5th) as 'virtual impactors'. Another NEO 2008 LH2 was confirmed soon after LINEAR discovered it, just after its closest approach to 9 Lunar Distances (LD) and followed for a total 7 nights.

2008 LB was the closest and fastest moving NEO seen during the month, a difficult Apollo object, last recorded 16 hours before its closest approach at about 3.8 LD, mag +17.9 and moving at 83"/min through the very crowded star fields just 5° south-east of the Scutum star cloud.

Another object recorded in a rich star field was 2003 OB4, this Amor type NEO had been discovered by NEAT on 23 July 2003 and, with prediscovery images, had been tracked for three months that year but not seen since. I searched for it on several nights in eastern Ophiuchus and found it over 0.5° off-track on 9th June at mag +19, confirming it the next night, with the recovery being announced in MPEC 2008-L43.