The electronic trail of the discovery of 2003 EL61

 What follows is a detailed time line of events as reconstructed from the web server logs and from information on the discovery of 2003 EL61 submitted by J.-L. Ortiz and P. Santos-Sanz to the International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Center.

(all times and dates are Greenwich mean time)
20 July 2005
Abstracts for the meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Union go on line. In three abstracts the name "K40506A" is used to describe an object we have been observing for approximately 6 months and were planning to publicly announce at the time of the September meeting. The abstracts suggest that "K40506A" is brighter and perhaps larger than any Kuiper belt object known.
26 July 8:08 AM
26 July 8:16 AM
26 July 8:26 AM
Multiple web-based observing records of  the 1.3-meter SMARTS telescope are accessed, first through an internet search engine, then, apparently, by guessing names of related web pages. This access is the first time these records have been accessed by anyone outside of the SMARTS consortium. The IP address from which the access came is, which resolves as This IP address corresponds to a computer at the IAA, the Instituto de Astrofisica in Spain. The IAA is the home institution of Ortiz and Santos-Sanz, who two days later claim discovery of this object. Each of the accessed observing records contains the name "K40506A" and points to the location of the object on different nights. Knowing where the object is on a single night does not allow you to predict a position on any other nights, so access to a single record could be potentially benign. However, the multiple records of observations on multiple nights could be used by anyone with astronomical knowledge to accurately predict the location at any point in the past or future.
27 July 11:13 PM
Email is received at the International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Cener from P. Santos-Sanz of the IAA with a report of the discovery by he and Ortiz. The email comes from a computer with the IP address, the same computer used to access the observing records containing the position of K40506A the day before. This initial submission contains only data from three nights in 2003.
28 July 8:56 AM
28 July 8:57 AM
28 July 8:58 AM
The web-based observing records are again accessed by someone at the IAA, this time the IP address is, which resolves as Observing records from several new nights not originally accessed two days earlier are examined. 
28 July 8:17 PM
28 July 8:26 PM
28 July 8:35 PM
S. Sanchez, R. Stoss, and J. Nomen use the Observatoria Astronomico de Mallorca -- a small amateur telescope in the Mediterranean -- to observe the object soon to be known as 2003 EL61 at the request of Ortiz.
28 July 9:42 PM
Email from Ortiz is received at the Minor Planet Center, including the new observations just made and a slew of archival observations. The computer from which the email is sent has the IP address, which is the computer used to access the SMARTS observing records earlier that same day. This Kuiper belt object, now named 2003 EL61, is the first ever to be discovered by this group or at this observatory. No mention is made of the access to the SMARTS web-based observing records over the previous two days. As of this time, no other unusual access to the SMARTS web-based records had occurred.
29 July 2:07 AM
Mike Brown sends email to Ortiz congratulating him on his new discovery.
9 August 19:54 PM
Mike Brown sends email to Ortiz informing him of the existence of the web server logs and requests a response.
14 August
Receiving no response from Ortiz, Brown submits a formal complaint to the IAU.