Image of the Month - January 2003

TNO 2002 TC302

The Trans Neptunian Object 2002 TC302 was discovered on October 9, 2002, by the NEAT asteroid survey using the 1.2m Oschin Schmidt Telescope at the Palomar Mountain Observatory. Due to it's highly inclined and excentric orbit, it is classified as a Scattered-Disc Object, sepearting it from classic TNOs with more circular orbits. With an estimated diameter of close to 1000km, it is also one of the largest (and brightest) TNOs know to date. This cold, distant world takes more than 400 years to circle the sun once.

TNO 2002 TC302
Credit & Copyright: Erich Meyer, Davidschlag Observatory, Austria

This 15 minute exposure of 2002 TC302 was taken on December 10, 2002, by Erich Meyer with a SBIG ST-6 CCD at the prime focus of the 0.6m f/3.3 reflector at the Davidschlag Observatory near Linz, Austria. The faint asteroid, shining at about 20mag, is located only about four arc minutes southeast of a bright star of magnitude 8: The star is more than 60'000 times brighter than the asteroid!

The improved orbit based on these additional observations enabled Reiner Stoss (DANEOPS) to find precovery observations of this unusual object, adding further NEAT observations from 2001 and 2000.

Related Links:

  • 2002 TC302 Orbit Animation (Zoom out to see the orbit!)
  • Kuiper Belt Page by David Jewitt

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