Near-Earth Asteroid 2017 FN1 extremely close encounter: an exceptional image (20 Mar. 2017)

On 20.3 March 2017, the Mt. Lemmon Survey discovered the near-Earth Asteroid  2017 FN1, which was posted on the NEO Confirmation  Page of the Minor Planet Center as YF98B10. It was expected to safely reach a minimum distance of about 65.000 km from the Earth, that is 0.17 lunar distances. It was an extremely close encounter.

Near-Earth Asteroid candidate 2017 FN1: 20 Mar. 2017

Near-Earth Asteroid candidate 2017 FN1: 20 Mar. 2017

At Virtual Telescope we managed to image it around the flyby, getting amazing images. The sky was not perfect, so capturing it was not easy, but our amazing hardware truly helped a lot.

The image above is the average of three,  5-seconds exposures, remotely taken with “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. At the imaging time, the telescope was tracking with an exceptional rate of 3865 arc-seconds per minute: in less than one minute, it moved of one degree in the sky, twice the angular size of the Moon. Asteroid 2017 FN1 is the sharp dot in the center. To get these impressive results, the Paramount ME robotic mount tracked on the object thanks to the available orbital elements of the object. At the imaging time, asteroid 2017 FN1was at about 70.000 km from us, less than 1/5th of the average Moon distance. The asteroid is perfectly tracked: it is the obvious, sharp dot in the center.

This is the fastest natural object ever imaged by the Virtual Telescope Project, showing its excellence in this field

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