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2003 NZ6 (A personal account of a brief encounter with an Aten)


2003 NZ6 was observed for just 11 days from 2003 July 9th - 20th.

It spends a lot of its time close to the Sun and the NEODys database indicates that the next favourable apparition is likely to be May 2005 when it should reach about mag. +19.

At this time the 3 sigma uncertainty in the ephemeris position is about +/- 1 and it may well be possible to recover it at that time. 

Strangely NEODys gives the uncertainty in position at the next favourable apparition after that, in June 2010 as much smaller at +/- 2' and slightly brighter at mag +18.5.

In July 2015 there is the chance of a very similar apparition to 2003, with a close approach to 0.088 AU predicted for 2015 July 18.8.

Update May 2005
LINEAR picked up 2003 NZ6 on 27 Apr 2005 during regular searching for Near Earth Objects and it was added to the NEO Confirmation Page as a new object later the same day. After 24 hours on the Confirmation Page it was confirmed from Modra Observatory and within minutes the Minor Planet Center tied the two sets of observations back to 2003 NZ6 and MPEC 2005-H36 was issued minutes later. It was just over 1 off the MPCs prediction from the 11 days of positions from its first apparition.

This image from early on 15 May 2005 shows 2003 NZ6 two weeks after its recovery.

Now the orbital uncertainty is very small for many years to come and the June 2010 apparition prediction should be good to better than 3". This observability chart for years 2003-2012 is from the Lowell Observatory's Asteroid Observation Chart Builder:


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