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Asteroid 437316 flyby

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I captured this interesting asteroid over the weekend. It's an earth-crossing Apollo asteroid on a close approach at the moment, and consequently moving by rather fast. It's currently at a distance of less than 0.1AU and won't be this close or bright again for a few decades. It spends most of its time below 21st magnitude, but it's currently around magnitude 15 and when I captured these images is was moving at a rate of 11.50"/minute. I understand that its diameter is several hundred metres.

I captured a number of 30 second exposures, with my 200mm f/5 Newtonian + 0.9x coma corrector and Atik 428ex, binned 2x. The field of view is 33.5 x 25.2 arc mins.

This shows the position of the asteroid at approximately 5 minute intervals. Even with 30-second exposures the movement was noticeable.


This shows a series of 29 consecutive images, stacked on the asteroid using Astrometrica.


This is an animation of an enlarged part of the above image.


And this is a 3d image of the orbit of the asteroid. As you see, it comes alarmingly close!


Running the frames through Astrometrica revealed a few other asteroids in the frame. Most were too faint for me to capture, but this one, Asteroid (37291) 2001 AP26, was at magnitude 19 and just visible in this aligned stack of 100 frames. Unlike 437316, it's in the main outer asteroid belt and approximately 10.5 km across. The streak across the middle is the path of 437316.



Edited by lukebl
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Fascinating and beautifully presented. I'm amazed.

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