PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 87/2003 - 16 October 2003
NEW SNAPSHOTS OF WELSH 'FIREBALL' EVENT
---------------------------------------


(1) NEW TWIST IN WELSH 'FIREBALL' SAGA
    Benny Peiser  b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk

(2) NEW IMAGES OF WELSH 'FIREBALL' EVENT
    Robert Nemiroff <nemiroff@mtu.edu>

(3) NEW SNAPS OF WELSH 'FIREBALL' EVENT
    by way of Robert Nemiroff <nemiroff@mtu.edu>

(4) 'METEOR' OVER SOUTH WALES
    by way of Robert Nemiroff <nemiroff@mtu.edu

(5) A CAMBRIDGE OBSERVER OF THE WELSH 'FIREBALL' EVENT
    by way of Robert Nemiroff <nemiroff@mtu.edu>

(6) HERMES IS FOUND
    Roger W. Sinnott

(7) MPC ANNOUNCEMENT OF HERMES RECOVERY
    MPEC 2003-774

(8) BACKGROUND INFO: EFFORTS ON 1937 UB "HERMES", A LOST ASTEROID
    Rechenzentrum Heidelberg


==========
(1) NEW TWIST IN WELSH 'FIREBALL' SAGA

Benny Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>

New digital snapshots have emerged of the 'fiery' object that was observed in
the skies over South Wales on Sept. 24. The new images together with an account
from an eyewitness as far away as Cambridge are posted in today's CCNet.
The new evidence raise new questions and re-open the debate about the nature
of the perplexing event.

As if the photos, taken by Welsh amateur photographer Gary Green, were not baffling
enough, the account by John Lambert who says that he too observed the 'fiery'
phenomenon from his garden in Cambridge raises  doubts whether the contrail of an airplane 
flying over South  Wales can be observed in far away Cambridge, some 150 miles
to the east of Pencoed.

I have received the attached photos and comments from Robert Nemiroff, one of the two
editors of "Astronomy Picture of the Day" (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html).
He posted Jon Burnett's photo on the APOD website and wrote the original text and updates.
He has asked me to circulate the new images, the accompanying comments, and John Lambert's
comments on CCNet, stressing that they are not to be distributed or published without
proper consent.

Robert and Jerry Bonnell are planning another update of the whole story for the APOD
website. They are as curious as I am to learn what the analyses of the new evidence may
reveal.

BTW: At Monday 's NEO meeting at the UK Spaceguard Centre in Wales, Jay Tate presented
additional snapshots of the event taken by yet another photographer (that's the  4th by
now) which show more puzzlingly features of the luminary phenomenon.

Benny Peiser

=========
(2)  NEW IMAGES OF WELSH 'FIREBALL' EVENT

Robert Nemiroff <nemiroff@mtu.edu>

Hi Benny,

I was the one who posted that APOD, wrote the original text,
and updated the text when another credible explanation was
suggested.  I have had extensive e-mail correspondences with
several people, including meteor and contrail experts, so it
looks like we were living parallel lives and even arriving at
similar conclusions. I have forwarded to you some images and
personal witness accounts that apparently you did not have.
I hope you find them useful. Please do keep me informed of
your conclusions, as we will likely write another APOD
on this strange event in the near future.
- Robert Nemiroff

http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/wales1.jpg
taken by Gary Green ((c) MMIII) on Sept. 24 2003, 19.06.36 BST
 
http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/wales2.jpg
taken by Gary Green ( MMIII) on Sept. 24 2003, 19.08.02 BST

http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/wales3.jpg
taken by Gary Green ( MMIII)  on Sept. 24 2003, 19.10.24 BST

========
(3)  NEW SNAPS OF WELSH 'FIREBALL' EVENT

by way of Robert Nemiroff <nemiroff@mtu.edu>
[mailto:gg@opobs.co.uk]

G.P.Green
4 Hafod Las
Pencoed
Bridgend
CF35 5NB
Home Phone 01656 860503

Astronomy Photograph of the day October 1st
Meteor over South Wales?

Dear Sirs,

I noted with interest the above on your website. Coincidentally I
to photographed the event and even more coincidentally I'm from the
same village as the Oct 1st photographer, although I don't know him.

Attached are the sequence of three photos I took. They were taken over
a three minute period just after 7 p.m. (Sunset) British Summer time
on the 24th September. In view of the differing opinions expressed
on your website as to what the original photos represented then I
wonder if the attached can shed any further light. For information
the photos attached are full frame shots taken on a digital SLR.
The close up shot was taken on a 300mm lens which as it was on a
Canon digital camera would equate to 480 mm ordinary lens. (Because
of the CCD chip giving 1.6 magnification).

I look forward to your reply.

Gary Green
 
===========
(4)  'METEOR'  OVER SOUTH WALES
 
by way of Robert Nemiroff <nemiroff@mtu.edu
[mailto Gary Green:gg@opobs.co.uk]

Dear Sirs,

Meteor South Wales

Thank you for your reply. The background to this incident is as
follows.

I am a 46 year old ex Bank manager whose interest in photography stems
back over 15 years. Having only a matter of days earlier purchased a
new Digital SLR I was naturally wishing to try it out, although not
wishing to take anything serious or worthwhile with it on the evening
in question.

Having found a car park locally which had a largely uninterrupted view
of the western skyline. I set about running off a few frames as the sun
was setting. It was one of those nights when the horizon promised much
but delivered little. This being the case in-between shots I cast an eye
around to try the camera on any interesting general cloud formations to
take. After all being a digital camera there wasn't any film to be wasted.
One of the bugbears of taking any decent shots that have a sky in them is
the occurrence of aircraft contrails slashing uninteresting and distracting
white lines through your photo. You then either have to wait for the
contrail to disperse or actively incorporate it in your shot. On this
instance because the setting sun was lighting the trail I went ahead and
took the shots. Over a short period of time three shots were taken interspersed
with uninteresting shots of the sunset.

Because the camera is digital it stores the technical data of the photo at the
time of taking. Camera type, lens shutter speed, etc., and importantly time.
This data may be on the tiff files sent to you and viewable if accessed
through Adobe Photoshop 7 browser. I've looked it up on the original files and
the order of the shots is, 1). Portrait format, straight contrail. Time 19.06.36. 
2) Landscape format, bent contrail. Time 19.08.02.  3) Expanded contrail,
Time 19.10.24.

To answer your questions.

Shots 1 and 2 were taken as the contrail was being formed. There was no sign
of an aircraft at the leading edge of the contrail. Magnifying the leading edge
does show some kind of indefinite black blob there but you can't tell what
it is. Shot three was not witnessed forming as I'd been looking the other way.
As such I couldn't tell you how quickly this event occurred. After shot three
the plume lingered there for quite a while but no further trail developed coming
out of the plume.

While South Wales is on the general London to U.S. flight path, throughout there
were no sounds of aircraft in the air. Given that we are in the area of the flight
path you do get used to seeing contrails forming. However what struck me as
slightly odd on this occasion was the speed that the leading edge was progressing
across the sky. It seemed slow compared to the size of the contrail. Normally a slow
contrail indicates a high aircraft. At the greater height the aircraft seems to
move less distance but in being high the trail is also smaller to the human eye.

The other thing that caught my eye was the sharp deviation in the trail in photo 2.
I don't know whether my stomach would have appreciated being in any plane that
changed direction in that sharp a fashion.

It would be quite something if this was a meteor and hell it beats banking.

If you want to use the shots the website I that's ok.

If there is any other information you think would assist then don't hesitate
to ask.

YOURS TRULY,
Gary

===========
(5)  A CAMBRIDGE OBSERVER OF THE WELSH 'FIREBALL' EVENT
 
by way of Robert Nemiroff <nemiroff@mtu.edu>
[mailto:John.Lambert@arm.com]

Hi Robert,

I found this page from following a link from the BBC website, and as soon
as I saw the picture recognised that I saw this event as well. I live in
Cambridge, England and saw it from my back garden. I must object to the statement
"perhaps a better hypothesis is an unusual airplane contrail reflecting the
setting Sun" because that it certainly wasn't. I thought it looked like a meteor,
although it was a lot lower in the sky than I would have expected. The only
difference from where I was is that it looked to me to be descending at a very
steep angle compared to the photo. That could be because I was closer in line
with its line of flight.

Hope that helps.

John Lambert

==============
A CAMBRIDGE OBSERVER OF THE WELSH 'FIREBALL' EVENT

by way of Robert Nemiroff <nemiroff@mtu.edu>
[mailto:John.Lambert@arm.com]

Hi Robert,

I have seen meteors before but this struck me as being unusual for a couple
of reasons. I first caught sight of it between two houses just above the
roof line and it looked like a normal meteor except that I've never seen a
meteor that low in the sky before. It seemed to burn up much quicker and more
spectacularly than I expected and it was much brighter than a normal meteor.
It seemed to completely burn up just before my horizon level. After seeing it,
my first reaction was to listen for a bang because its brightness suggested
that it was quite close, but then I thought about its trajectory and realised
that it was probably going to hit somewhere out in the Atlantic. I then formed
the opinion that the most likely explanation was that it could have been a piece
of space debris burning up rather than a meteor.

I then forgot about it till I saw the picture and then recognised it
straight away. It was only the possible explanation of a vapour trail
that caused me to e-mail you to try and put the record straight.

Hope that helps.

John Lambert

=======
(6) HERMES IS FOUND

From: Roger W. Sinnott
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 10:03 PM
To: asteroid@SkyandTelescope.com

==================================================================
This Is SKY & TELESCOPE's AstroAlert for Minor Planets
==================================================================

After eluding astronomers for 66 years, the long-lost asteroid Hermes has finally been retrieved.

Early on October 15th, Brian A. Skiff (Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search, Arizona) sent measurements of four CCD images obtained with the 23-inch Catalina Schmidt telescope to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At the center, Timothy B. Spahr identified the suspect with other measurements submitted in the past seven weeks -- but not recognized as unusual -- by LONEOS and by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project in New Mexico. In addition, quick action by James Young (Table Mountain Observatory, California) secured a confirmation just before dawn on the 15th.

Judging by its brightness, Hermes is a minor planet about 1 to 2 kilometers across. So it could be somewhat larger than the 1937 estimates. In a famous exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, Hermes was depicted as a sphere about the size of Central Park.

Hermes is by no means the last of the "lost asteroids" -- many thousands of others in the Minor Planet Center's database fall in this category because they could not be followed long enough for an accurate orbit to be determined. But Hermes is by far the most famous. It was discovered by Karl Reinmuth at Heidelberg, Germany, on October 28, 1937, and tracked for only five days. Although never officially numbered, it has been known by the name Hermes ever since.

In late October 2003, Hermes will be bright enough (magnitude 13) to be seen in 8-inch and larger amateur telescopes as it races westward across Cetus, Pisces, and Aquarius. By month's end it will be moving 7 degrees per day and gaining. Unlike the situation in 1937, when Hermes skimmed to within 800,000 km of our planet (two Earth-Moon distances), it will pass about nine times that far on November 4, 2003. Nevertheless, the possibility of future close encounters definitely puts this object in the PHA (potentially hazardous asteroid) class.

The preliminary ephemeris below has been calculated from the orbital elements by Brian G. Marsden on Minor Planet Electronic Circular 2003-T74, issued October 15th. It gives Hermes's right ascension and declination (equinox 2000.0) at 0 hours Universal Time on each date, its distance from the Earth (Delta) and Sun (r) in astronomical units, its elongation angle from the Sun, visual magnitude, and the constellation through which it is passing. (View or print the table with a fixed-space font like Courier.)

Sky & Telescope plans to issue another AstroAlert with a more detailed ephemeris later.

Roger W. Sinnott
Senior Editor
Sky & Telescope

==================================================================
AstroAlert is a free service of SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential
Magazine of Astronomy (http://SkyandTelescope.com/). This e-mail
was sent to AstroAlert subscribers. If you feel you received it
in error, or to unsubscribe from AstroAlert, please send a plain-
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unsubscribe asteroid e-mail@address.com
replacing "e-mail@address.com" with your actual e-mail address.

=========
(7) MPC ANNOUNCEMENT OF HERMES RECOVERY

MPEC 2003-774
http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/mpec/K03/K03T74.html

M.P.E.C. 2003-T74                                Issued 2003 Oct. 15, 17:10 UT

     The Minor Planet Electronic Circulars contain information on unusual
         minor planets and routine data on comets.  They are published
   on behalf of Commission 20 of the International Astronomical Union by the
          Minor Planet Center, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory,
                          Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

         Supported in part by the Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation
             Prepared using the Tamkin Foundation Computer Network

                              MPC@CFA.HARVARD.EDU
          URL http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/mpc.html  ISSN 1523-6714

                               1937 UB (HERMES)

Observations:
     J37U00B  C2003 08 26.35985 01 52 54.33 +04 08 41.6          18.8        704
     J37U00B  C2003 08 26.37269 01 52 54.87 +04 08 44.8          19.6        704
     J37U00B  C2003 08 26.38603 01 52 55.52 +04 08 46.6          19.3        704
     J37U00B  C2003 08 26.41142 01 52 56.62 +04 08 52.1          19.2        704
     J37U00B  C2003 09 03.37679 01 58 49.08 +04 23 54.8          19.0        704
     J37U00B  C2003 09 03.38860 01 58 49.59 +04 23 55.5          19.1        704
     J37U00B  C2003 09 03.40035 01 58 49.96 +04 23 55.8          18.6        704
     J37U00B  C2003 09 03.41219 01 58 50.36 +04 23 57.0          19.3        704
     J37U00B  C2003 09 28.29353 02 05 19.55 +04 12 35.4          16.9        704
     J37U00B  C2003 09 28.30707 02 05 19.22 +04 12 32.1          18.5        704
     J37U00B  C2003 09 28.31989 02 05 18.78 +04 12 30.5          18.0        704
     J37U00B  C2003 09 28.34613 02 05 18.17 +04 12 26.7          17.0        704
     J37U00B  C2003 09 28.37929 02 05 17.41 +04 12 21.0          17.1 R      699
     J37U00B  C2003 09 28.39356 02 05 17.02 +04 12 18.8                      699
     J37U00B  C2003 09 28.40779 02 05 16.65 +04 12 15.9                      699
     J37U00B  C2003 09 28.42207 02 05 16.31 +04 12 14.2                      699
     J37U00B  C2003 10 05.59036 02 01 02.22 +03 46 56.7          16.7        608
     J37U00B  C2003 10 05.60121 02 01 01.55 +03 46 53.9          16.8        608
     J37U00B  C2003 10 05.61168 02 01 00.90 +03 46 50.5          16.8        608
     J37U00B  C2003 10 15.30771 01 45 29.04 +02 45 15.7          14.4 R      699
     J37U00B  C2003 10 15.32432 01 45 26.23 +02 45 06.8                      699
     J37U00B  C2003 10 15.34094 01 45 23.44 +02 44 57.8                      699
     J37U00B  C2003 10 15.35751 01 45 20.63 +02 44 48.9                      699
     J37U00B  C2003 10 15.51076 01 44 55.17 +02 43 26.6          14.5 R      673
     J37U00B  C2003 10 15.51215 01 44 54.94 +02 43 25.8                      673
     J37U00B  C2003 10 15.51354 01 44 54.72 +02 43 24.9                      673
     J37U00B  C2003 10 15.51516 01 44 54.47 +02 43 24.2                      673
     J37U00B  C2003 10 15.51725 01 44 54.14 +02 43 23.1                      673

Observer details:
608 Haleakala-NEAT/MSSS.  Observers R. Bambery, E. Helin, S. Pravdo, M. Hicks,
    K. Lawrence, P. Kervin, J. Africano, R. Maeda.  1.2-m reflector + CCD.
673 Table Mountain Observatory, Wrightwood.  Observer J. Young.  0.6-m
    reflector + CCD.
699 Lowell Observatory-LONEOS.  Observers M. E. Van Ness, B. A. Skiff.  0.59-m
    LONEOS Schmidt + CCD.
704 Lincoln Laboratory ETS, New Mexico.  Observers M. Blythe, F. Shelly,
    M. Bezpalko, R. Huber, L. Manguso, D. Torres, R. Kracke, M. McCleary,
    H. Stange, S. Adams, T. Brothers, S. Partridge.  Measurers J. Stuart,
    R. Sayer, J. Evans, J. Kommers, P. Hopman.  1.0-m f/2.15 reflector + CCD.

Orbital elements:
1937 UB                                                              PHA 0.003
Epoch 2003 Dec. 27.0 TT = JDT 2453000.5                 MPC
M   1.79614              (2000.0)            P               Q
n   0.46288738     Peri.   92.39541     -0.59740895     -0.79969615
a   1.6550806      Node    34.51615     +0.68733602     -0.54908819
e   0.6242226      Incl.    6.06865     +0.41312437     -0.24287492
P   2.13           H   17.1           G   0.15           U   6
Residuals in seconds of arc
030826 704  0.3+  1.0-    030928 704  1.1-  0.4-    031015 699  0.1-  0.2-
030826 704  0.4-  0.3+    030928 704  0.0   0.0     031015 699  0.2+  0.3-
030826 704  0.2+  0.2+    030928 699  0.2+  0.1+    031015 699  0.0   0.4-
030826 704 (0.6-  2.1+)   030928 699  0.1-  0.2+    031015 673  0.2-  0.1+
030903 704  0.7-  0.6+    030928 699  0.0   0.4-    031015 673  0.2-  0.1+
030903 704  0.7+  0.3+    030928 699  0.5+  0.3+    031015 673  0.1-  0.0
030903 704  0.0   0.4-    031005 608  0.3-  0.5+    031015 673  0.1+  0.2+
030903 704  0.2-  0.2-    031005 608  0.2-  0.7+    031015 673  0.3+  0.2+
030928 704  0.4+  0.4+    031005 608  0.1-  0.2+
030928 704  0.6+  0.8-    031015 699  0.1+  0.2-

Ephemeris:
1937 UB                  a,e,i = 1.66, 0.62, 6                   q = 0.6219
Date    TT    R. A. (2000) Decl.     Delta      r     Elong.  Phase     V
2003 10 08    01 58.54   +03 35.4    0.287    1.277   163.4    12.9    15.7
2003 10 10    01 55.90   +03 24.3    0.264    1.256   165.7    11.3    15.4
2003 10 12    01 52.63   +03 11.4    0.242    1.236   168.0     9.7    15.1
2003 10 14    01 48.61   +02 56.6    0.221    1.216   170.2     8.0    14.8
2003 10 16    01 43.64   +02 39.3    0.200    1.195   172.0     6.7    14.5

2003 10 18    01 37.45   +02 18.9    0.179    1.174   172.7     6.2    14.2
2003 10 19    01 33.78   +02 07.2    0.169    1.164   172.4     6.5    14.1
2003 10 20    01 29.64   +01 54.2    0.159    1.153   171.6     7.2    13.9
2003 10 21    01 24.96   +01 39.8    0.149    1.143   170.4     8.4    13.8
2003 10 22    01 19.63   +01 23.7    0.139    1.132   168.7     9.9    13.7
2003 10 23    01 13.53   +01 05.6    0.130    1.122   166.7    11.7    13.6
2003 10 24    01 06.49   +00 45.0    0.120    1.111   164.4    13.9    13.5
2003 10 25    00 58.31   +00 21.4    0.111    1.101   161.7    16.5    13.4
2003 10 26    00 48.72   -00 05.8    0.102    1.090   158.5    19.5    13.3
2003 10 27    00 37.38   -00 37.7    0.094    1.079   154.9    23.0    13.2
2003 10 28    00 23.82   -01 15.1    0.085    1.069   150.7    27.1    13.1
2003 10 29    00 07.46   -01 59.5    0.077    1.058   145.7    31.9    13.0
2003 10 30    23 47.55   -02 52.2    0.070    1.048   139.9    37.7    12.9
2003 10 31    23 23.17   -03 54.3    0.063    1.037   132.9    44.5    12.9
2003 11 01    22 53.40   -05 06.0    0.057    1.026   124.6    52.8    12.9
2003 11 02    22 17.54   -06 24.6    0.052    1.015   114.8    62.6    13.0
2003 11 03    21 35.78   -07 43.7    0.049    1.005   103.5    73.8    13.2
2003 11 04    20 49.79   -08 52.5    0.048    0.994    91.3    86.0    13.5
2003 11 05    20 02.81   -09 40.6    0.048    0.983    78.9    98.3    14.0
2003 11 06    19 18.50   -10 04.2    0.051    0.973    67.2   110.0    14.7
2003 11 07    18 39.44   -10 06.9    0.055    0.962    56.8   120.4    15.6
2003 11 08    18 06.51   -09 56.1    0.061    0.951    48.0   129.3    16.5
2003 11 09    17 39.39   -09 38.5    0.067    0.941    40.7   136.7    17.5
2003 11 10    17 17.22   -09 18.6    0.074    0.930    34.5   142.9    18.5
2003 11 11    16 59.06   -08 59.1    0.082    0.920    29.5   148.0    19.6
2003 11 12    16 44.08   -08 40.9    0.090    0.909    25.3   152.3    20.6

     A bright near-earth-object candidate, reported this morning by
B. A. Skiff, was placed on The NEO Confirmation Page by T. B. Spahr quickly
enough that follow-up observations could be made by J. Young within four hours.
Spahr then located the Oct. 5 observations (which had been reported as a
likely main-belt object) and recognized the object as 1937 UB (Hermes).
With the help of the LINEAR Team, single-night observations (also reported
as likely main-belt objects) could then be identified back to Aug. 26.  The
orbital elements provided here have not been linked to the 1937 observations,
since when the object has made almost exactly 31 revolutions.  Radar
observations at the present apparition would be very useful.

Brian G. Marsden             (C) Copyright 2003 MPC           M.P.E.C. 2003-T74

==========
(8) BACKGROUND INFO: EFFORTS ON 1937 UB "HERMES", A LOST ASTEROID

Rechenzentrum Heidelberg
http://www.rzuser.uni-heidelberg.de/~s24/hermes.htm

by  Lutz D. Schmadel, Astron.Rechen-Institut, Heidelberg, Germany,
    s21@ix.urz.uni-heidelberg.de

and Joachim Schubart, Astron.Rechen-Institut, Heidelberg, Germany,
    s24@ix.urz.uni-heidelberg.de

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Index
1. The present situation
2. Some more recent measurements of trails
3. Orbits of variation and search lines

The present situation

Reinmuth discovered 1937 UB Hermes on 1937 Oct. 28.9 UT. The object had left long trails on two simultaneous exposures by the Bruce Astrograph at Heidelberg. Direct attempts to get further positions failed, but trails of Hermes were found on plates exposed at Oak Ridge (Oct.25.2), Johannesburg (Oct.27.9), and Sonneberg (sky patrol plates Oct.26.9 - 29.9). MPC 5971 of May 1981 gives a list of the positions. Due to the short arc and the proximity to the earth a reliable determination of the orbit is impossible, but the effects of daily parallax allow a qualitative derivation: Brian G. Marsden published a best fit to the observations in MPC 3014 of Oct. 1969. Since the resulting orbital period is too uncertain, a prediction of the position of Hermes in its orbit is not possible. There are no known observations of Hermes from the years after 1937.

Nevertheless, we have found it interesting to do some work on the observations and on possible variations of the orbit of Hermes. Unfortunately, most of the basic plates with trails of Hermes are missing in the respective collections of plates. This is true for the better one of the pair of the discovery plates, for the Johannesburg plates, and for the four Sonneberg patrol plates with published positions. The Oak Ridge plate of 1937 Okt. 25.2 is available in the plate collection of Harvard Observatory. Only a provisional position of moderate accuracy was derived from this plate in 1937 by L.E.Cunningham. In 1994 Gareth Williams looked at this plate and found the trail of Hermes, but it is very faint and the ends of the trail are very ill-defined, the trail seems to be involved with a star near one end (personal communication by Brian G. Marsden). Apparently it is not possible to improve Cunningham's position. The published positions from Sonneberg refer to four subsequent nights, but due to the very short focal length of the patrol cameras, and to the imperfect way of guiding during the exposure, these positions are inaccurate. Marsden omitted them in his best fit mentioned above.

FULL PAPER at

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