First two new NEOs observed from McDonald

The recently installed 1-meter telescope at McDonald Observatory has helped confirm its first two new Near Earth Objects (NEOs).  Both were candidates from PanSTARRS, and were followed up by a number of observatories including LCOGT. The first object, initially called P103Jah was detected by PanSTARRS on June 10th and  followed-up by Tim Lister on June 12. The object was officially designated as 2012 LK2 the next day. The object is quite large (~1.3km diameter) and on a very eccentric orbit which brings it within 0.35 AU of the Earth (Link to M.P.E.C.).

The second object was also discovered by PanSTARRS on June 15 and initially designated as P103NkL. Follow-up by Tim Lister from Faulkes Telescope North (FTN) on June 16 and the McDonald 1-meter on June 18, along with other observatories lead to its confirmation as a new NEO and designated as 2012 LD13 (Link to M.P.E.C.). This object is quite a bit smaller than 2012 LK2, around 130 meters in size, and is also on an eccentric orbit which brings it within the orbit of Venus at its closest to the Sun (perihelion) and out to near Jupiter at its furthest from the Sun (aphelion). 2012 LD13 can also come within 0.07 AU (approx. 27 lunar distances) of the Earth but is not a collision risk.

Also observed on the night of June 18 from McDonald was another new NEO, 2012 LZ1, which had been discovered on June 10 by the Siding Spring Survey. This NEO is known as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA)  as it is larger than ~140m and can approach the Earth closer than 0.05 AU (approx. 20 Earth-Moon distances). This NEO had its close approach to the Earth on June 15 and was on its way back out (but still moving pretty fast at ~21.5"/min) when it was captured from McDonald (the exposures are 10 seconds and the whole sequence covers ~20 mins)

(The animation was put together using ImageMagick to animate the PNG files that are produced automatically by the new ORAC-DR-based pipeline that is being built to process data from the new LCOGT 1-meter and 0.4-meter telescopes)

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