Hi esteemed fellow Space Rock Hounds !

This article was picked up from TUCSON on space.com a couple of days ago, and it appears to have fell though the cracks of the list.  Can't have that.  With all the incredible science going on at Mars, Stardust, Cassini, and beyond the heliopause... 

But this, a modern day Clyde Tombaugh moment enjoyed by a Tucson retiree with some time on his hands - he could have been one of us (and maybe is), it with his two home PC's comfortably at home in TUCSON !!! 

Retired Stu Megan of Tucson is a true meteoroid hunter.  Maybe it is achondrite (well, it is an Apollo class).  Its orbit was determined and confirmed and the rock has been submitted under the name of
2004 BV18.  His discovery weighs 25 to 50 million kilograms.   A metric ton is more than the weight of an original Volkswagen Beetle, but less than VW's "New Beetle".  Lots of BIG rocks out there, eh ?

Try your hand ... You don't have to be from Tucson, or even from North America to participate:  Everyone is invited to do some real discovery of FMO's (Fast moving objects) in this program right from their own keyboard, really!  Hurry up !  It should be a healthy national competition.  (Thanks to a grant from Paul Allen of Microsoft and all Microsoft users):


Doug Dawn

January 29

Man Discovers Asteroid in Internet Photo

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- A volunteer in an astronomy project scrolled through thousands of telescope images on the Internet and discovered an asteroid by noticing its telltale streaks.

Stu Megan, a semiretired computer specialist, reviews online images for the University of Arizona's Spacewatch program. He has pored over more than 6,500 images since the project went public in October.

The program allows volunteers to spot fast-moving space objects, or FMOs, by logging onto a Web site and downloading images taken by telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory, 56 miles southwest of Tucson.

Megan spotted the asteroid -- now known as 2004 BV18 -- earlier this month. It is the first one discovered by a Spacewatch volunteer to be confirmed by the Minor Planet Center, the official body that deals with such observations.

"I think it's really cool," Megan said. "I've got all this time to spare. Plus, I can multi-task. I've got two computers."

The asteroid missed the Earth by 1.2 million miles, but it wouldn't have done much more than offer a pretty light show even if it had been aimed directly at us, said Robert McMillan, who directs Spacewatch. At an estimated size of 60 feet by 120 feet, the asteroid would have burned up as it coursed through Earth's upper atmosphere, he said.

Spacewatch primarily studies the movement of asteroids and comets. Volunteers fill an important niche, McMillan said, while researchers at the University of Arizona and automated computers track larger objects in space.

One of the program's major goals is to search for objects that could become potential destinations for spacecraft missions, while another lies in identifying asteroids larger than a kilometer in diameter heading toward Earth.

An impact by an asteroid that size could cause a global catastrophe.

-- Associated Press

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