Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Capturing asteroid 2014 JO25 (19 April 2017)
|Asteroid 2014 JO25 zips past the magnitude 13.1 galaxy NGC 6248 while bracketed by satellite trails (the asteroid is the dotted line through the centre). 10 x 120 second luminance exposures with iTelescope T14 stacked and aligned in ImageJ. Imaging starts at 10:00 UT (4:00 am local time) Click to embiggen and see more galaxies.||Animation of the same 10 x 120 frames (click to embiggen for animated asteroidal goodness)|
Asteroid 2014 JO25 is, as I type, making its closest approach to Earth (12:24 UT 19 April). Zipping past at 4.6 Earth-Moon distances at closest approach, this asteroid was moving at a speedy 92.2 arc seconds per minute whin I was trying to image it, making imaging a tad challenging. However, using the remote telescopes of iTelescope in Mayhill New Mexico I succeeded (with a bit of bad luck with some cloud early on). With the wide-field T14 instrument I caught the asteroid zipping through a field of galaxies, looking rather nice.
Asteroid 2014 JO25 also at 10:00 UT taken with iTelescope T5, moving so fast the tracker is just barely coping (hint the asteroid is the only thing that is not a streak).
Australia gets its chance tomorrow, when the asteroid zips through Virgo. It won't be as bright as at closest approach, but still within reach of modest amateur scopes.
This is the closest approach of asteroid 2015 JO25 for around 400 years, and it wont come this close again for another 500 years.
The asteroid turn out to be a very interesting object, images from the Arecibo radio telescope show that the asteroid is a contact binary, and about twice the size we though it was, one of the two lobes is around 620 meters in diameter, see here and here of radio telescope "images" and animations from the Goldstone and Arecibo radio telescopes.