Astro News Briefs: September 30–October 6

Amateur Asteroid Awards Move Through U.S. House

October 4, 2002 | Amateur asteroid hunters can hope to win one of three $2,000 awards each year if an act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this week makes its way into law. The Charles "Pete" Conrad Astronomy Awards (named for one of the Apollo 12 astronauts) would be granted in three categories. One would go to the amateur astronomer who discovers the largest near-Earth asteroid in a given year. The second would go to an amateur who uses professionally acquired data for a discovery or refinement of an orbit, and the third is reserved for the amateur "who provides the greatest service to update the minor planet catalogue." The measure passed the House on a voice vote October 1st and has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.


New Moon for Uranus

October 1, 2002 | Observations of Uranus taken in Chile in August with the 4-meter Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory Blanco telescope have revealed a probable new moon for Uranus. The object is likely 7 to 19 kilometers across and has an orbital semimajor axis of 8.5 million km. Matthew J. Holman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) led the trio of observers that made the initial discovery.

The finding was announced on the International Astronomical Union Circular 7980.


New Binary Asteroid

October 1, 2002 | William J. Merline (Southwest Research Institute) found a companion to asteroid 121 Hermione on September 28th. The object, discovered with the 10-meter Keck II telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, appears to be about 13 kilometers across and has a projected separation from Hermione of 630 km. With this find, close to two dozen objects are now confirmed or suspected to be binary asteroids.

Merline's discovery also appeared on IAU Circular 7980.

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