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Archive for the ‘free’ Category

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: an unforgettable experience and event

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: 26 Jan. 2015, 22:07 UT

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: 26 Jan. 2015, 22:07 UT

After waiting for weeks, it finally happened: on 26 Jan. 2015 the potentially hazardous asteroid (357439) - 2004 BL86 made its close encounter with the Earth, putting a great show out there for those willing to have a look… and lucky enough to be under clear skies. The minimum distance from us and this 0.5 km large rock was of 1.2 millions of km, a bit more than three times the mean lunar distance.

This rock had a huge exposure, after JPL made a press release available, explaining there were no risks at all coming from this object and underlining  it was a very welcome chance for curious people to look at it easily and for scientists to learn more about its nature (and in fact it showed to be a binary object via photometry and radar). Well, it was very well known there were no risks (2004 BL86 is an old friend of us, with a well defined orbit), but they wanted to state it clear and clear, to have no room for speculations: a lot of people always announce disasters when an asteroid comes close to us, something never happening, and those disaster fans never come back to explain while the Armageddon did not show.

At Virtual Telescope we announced our live coverage on 6 Dec. 2014 and that opportunity was caught by many media all around the globe. The last couple of weeks were beautifully crazy, as our live feed was mentioned and linked on posts and articles on the most important websites/media of the world, including CNN, Fox, Yahoo, NBC, MSN, Space.com, National Geographic, Discovery, Ansa and more specific ones, as Sky & Telescope and Universe Today.

The PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit we used to show 2004 BL86

The PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit we used to show 2004 BL86

Finally, the day arrived, so did the asteroid and… the clouds, too. As always in such important events, the sky was overcasted. While a huge crowd was pressing to enter our website, the clouds wanted to sit in the first row, above us. So, we had to delay the live session, though we had a chance to see the asteroid soon after it rose above our horizon, one hour before the official start. We did all the proper setup to have our  PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit ready to track this object at its very own, fast apparent motion of  160″/minute; when it was only 13 deg above the SE horizon, we slewed our telescope to it and 2004 BL86 made us happy. Below is such a early image, where the asteroid is visible as a dot of light, in the center, with stars trailing all around. The Paramount ME robotic mount was really just perfect, as always, for this advanced task.

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: 26 Jan. 2015, 18:33 UT

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: 26 Jan. 2015, 18:33 UT

Using those early frames, we managed to make a video with 154 images, each using an exposure time of 10 seconds. This video runs from 18:46 to 19:25 UT. Check the video below (click on the video below to get the full res file, which is 19 Mb large):

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: 26 Jan. 2015, from 18:46 to 19:25 UT

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: 26 Jan. 2015, from 18:46 to 19:25 UT

Soon later, clouds covered everything, to the point that at the scheduled public time, we could not go live, delaying the session of 30 minutes. This happened several times, we were loosing our hopes to see something when the sky started to show stars again around 21:15 UT. We immediately opened the live feed, with thousands and thousands of viewers connected: all of them were so happy to see the asteroid, at last! There were so many people looking (with peaks of 15.000 contemporary viewers!)  that our web-server was sometimes slow, but with a bit of patience everybody had its chance to see 2004 BL86 thanks to the Virtual Telescope.

Below is another image taken during our live feed, where the asteroid is amazingly bright and running. For 30 minutes we had continuous coverage of this spectacular object, sometimes seeing clouds crossing the field of view: this added realism to the experience. The robotic system was a joy to see in action.

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: 26 Jan. 2015, 21:56 UT

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: 26 Jan. 2015, 21:56 UT

Among the images we captured, a few showed the bright trail of an artificial satellite, which crossed the field of view of the asteroid, an evidence that there are so many things moving in the night up there. Below is one of those frames (the asteroid is always a dot, the long and bright trail is the artificial sat):

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86 and a satellite trail: 26 Jan. 2015, 22:07 UT

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86 and a satellite trail: 26 Jan. 2015, 22:07 UT

This second attempt provided 215 frames, each integrated again for 10 seconds. The resulting time span ranges from 21:16 to 22:12 UT and the video below shows clouds affecting the view, as well as a few satellites crossing the field of view. Check the video below (click on the video below to get the full res file, which is 23 Mb large):

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: 26 Jan. 2015, from 21:16 to 22:12 UT

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86: 26 Jan. 2015, from 21:16 to 22:12 UT

As I wrote, our live coverage was a planetary success: almost 260.000 unique viewers saw asteroid 2004 BL86 with the powerful eyes of the Virtual Telescope. It was a worldwide party, as the chart below easily show: every Country showing with some blue color is a place from where we had viewers. Can we say we did a global coverage?

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86  event: geographical distribution of viewers

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86 event: geographical distribution of viewers

Last, but not least, those who missed the live feed can find it here, on our youtube channel:

It was a great event, making history for its huge success and we were proud to bring it to the world and to those always looking at the wonders of the sky at night.

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Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, AMAZING image of potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 BL86 taken taken by the Virtual Telescope!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

“The turning point of comet Lovejoy: comet C/2014 Q2 at perihelion” – online observing session (30 jan. 2015)

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*** Enter the LIVE event here ! ***

After a great show over the last weeks, on 30 Jan. 2015, comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy will reach its minimum distance from the Sun, the so-called perihelion. Then, it will start its journey back to the deep, cold outer Solar System.

At Virtual Telescope we want to celebrate with all of you the perihelion of such a wonderful comet: we will show it live, online, so that you can see it via the web, from the comfort of your home. All this for free.

We will admire comet Lovejoy in real-time on 30 Jan. 2015, starting at 19:00 UT.

To join, you just need to enter, at the date and time above, our webTV page here!

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Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, AMAZING image of potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 BL86 taken taken by the Virtual Telescope!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

The Geminid Meteor Shower 2014: online event – 14 Dec. 2014

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The Geminid Meteor Shower 2014: online event

The Geminid Meteor Shower 2014: online event

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Next 14 Dec. 2014, the spectacular Geminid meteor shower will be back with its spectacular show. The winter, cold temperatures contribute in making this shower neglected by the public, while it offer bright, very enjoyable meteors. Quite interestingly, the  Geminids – so called because the apparent source of their trails is placed in the constellation of Gemini (the Twins)  - originates from an asteroid, (3200) Phaethon, this making them one of the only two showers sharing this feature.

At Virtual Telescope we scheduled a live feed for 14 Dec. 2014, starting at 08:00 UT, when our all-sky camera will share real-time images via the audience.

To join, you just need to enter, at the date and time above, our webTV page here!

Back to “Upcoming Events”

  Please wait while you are redirected...or Click Here if you do not want to wait.



Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, AMAZING image of potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 BL86 taken taken by the Virtual Telescope!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy: live observing session – 6 & 12 Jan. 2015

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*** Enter the LIVE event here ! ***

A nice comet is coming for this Christmas: it is comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy. Hopefully, it will be bright enough to be seen with small telescopes and binoculars. A nice present from the sky.

At Virtual Telescope we want to celebrate this holiday season with you and what is better than sharing a comet at Christmas? We will show it live, online, so that you can see it via the web, from the comfort of your home. All this for free.

We will leave for this journey and observe comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy on two nights: 6 Jan. and 12 Jan. 2015. On both nights, the event will start at 19:00 UT.

To join, you just need to enter, at the date and time above, our webTV page here!

Back to “Upcoming Events”

  Please wait while you are redirected...or Click Here if you do not want to wait.



Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, AMAZING image of potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 BL86 taken taken by the Virtual Telescope!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439) – 2004 BL86 very close encounter: online event (26 Jan. 2015)

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Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439)-2004 BL86

Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (357439)-2004 BL86

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Next 26 Jan. 2015, at  16:20 UT, the 650-meters large potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) asteroid  (357439) – 2004 BL86 will made a very close approach with the Earth, reaching a minimum distance of 1.1 millions of km, that is 3.1 lunar distances. The body will be as bright as mag 9.5, so easily accessible with small telescopes/binoculars.

Of course, this is a very safe distance, but still a very spectacular circumstance, so  the Virtual Telescope Project will offer a live, online event sharing real-time images of  (357439) – 2004 BL86 with live commentary by our scientific staff.

The online, free session is scheduled for 26 Jan. 2015, starting at 19:30 UT. At that time, the object will be at its maximum brightness, assuring a spectacular sight.

To join, you just need to enter, at the date and time above, our webTV page here!

Back to “Upcoming Events”

  Please wait while you are redirected...or Click Here if you do not want to wait.



Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, AMAZING image of potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 BL86 taken taken by the Virtual Telescope!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

8 October 2014 – Total Lunar Eclipse: podcast

8 October 2014 Total Lunar Eclipse: poster

8 October 2014 Total Lunar Eclipse: poster

Below is the podcast of our live coverage of the 8 Oct. lunar eclipse, an international, very successful campaign hosted by the Virtual Telescope

 

 

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Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, AMAZING image of potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 BL86 taken taken by the Virtual Telescope!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 WC201 very close encounter: online event (01 Dec. 2014)

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Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 WC201

Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 WC201

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Next 02 Dec. 2014, at  04:52 UT, the 20-meters large asteroid 2014 WC201 will made a very close approach with the Earth, reaching a minimum distance of less than 540.000 km, that is 1.4 lunar distances.

Of course, this is a very safe distance, but still a very spectacular circumstance, so  the Virtual Telescope Project will offer a live, online event sharing real-time images of 2014 WC201 with live commentary by our scientific staff.

The online, free session is scheduled for 01 Dec. 2014, starting at 23:00 UT.

To join, you just need to enter, at the date and time above, our webTV page here!

Back to “Upcoming Events”

  Please wait while you are redirected...or Click Here if you do not want to wait.



Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, AMAZING image of potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 BL86 taken taken by the Virtual Telescope!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 UF56 is approaching: an image (26 Oct. 2014)

Near-Earth asteroid 2014 UF56: 26 Oct. 2014

Near-Earth asteroid 2014 UF56: 26 Oct. 2014

While waiting for the near-Earth asteroid 2014 UF56 and its very close encounter later today, we imaged this small, ~14 meters rock 24 hours, while it was already within one million kilometers.

Above is a single 180-seconds exposure, remotely collected with the  PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope Project. The telescope tracked at the fast apparent rate of the asteroid, 30″/minute, so the object looks like a sharp dot of light, while stars are leaving long trails.

The Virtual Telescope will show asteroid 2014 UF56 live on 27 Oct. 2014, at 19:00 UT on its webTV here!

Back to “Solar System”

 

 



Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, AMAZING image of potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 BL86 taken taken by the Virtual Telescope!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 SC324: an exceptional movie

Near-Earth asteroid 2014 SC324: min vs max brightness (25 Oct. 2014)

Near-Earth asteroid 2014 SC324: min vs max brightness (25 Oct. 2014)

Last night, at Virtual Telescope we tracked the near-Earth Asteroid 2014 SC324, sharing it with our followers online, in real time.

In particular, on 25 Oct. 2014, we managed to collect 110 images, back to back, covering the 00:12 to 00:42 UT (30 minutes). This ~60 meters large asteroid showed evident variations in brightness suggesting it was a quite elongated body. A first guess suggests an amplitude of 1.5 magnitudes.

The animation above alternates the max and minimum brightness, showing the full amplitude at a glance. Images were carefully adjusted so that the variation you see is just real.

Understanding that variation is easy: the asteroid is rotating and, because of a very elongated shape, it is changing during rotation the amount of light it is reflecting to us. The larger the amplitude, the stronger the elongation (in principle, darker/brighter areas on the asteroid could do the same, independently from the shape). Things can be of course much complicated (as for non-principal axis rotators), but that is the key point.

Of course, the apparent luminosity changes smoothly if you consider a continuous coverage and it can be better seen in the video below, showing all the available 110 frames. NB: a larger (16Mb) version is available here. We are working to extract useful data from these observations.

Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 SC324: a movie (25 Oct. 2014)

Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 SC324: a movie (25 Oct. 2014)

 

 

Back to “Star Words”

 



Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, AMAZING image of potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 BL86 taken taken by the Virtual Telescope!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

Near-Earth asteroid 2014 SC324: a spectacular close encounter – image and podcast

Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 SC324: 24 Oct. 2014

Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 SC324: 24 Oct. 2014

Once again, an asteroid was the “star” of our live, online activities. This time, it was the near-Earth asteroid 2014 SC324 coming as close as about 550.000 km on 24 Oct. at 19:21 UT. While it was not at all a risk for our planet (and this was of course well-known), this 60-meters large asteroid made a spectacular apparition, perfectly accessible from the northern hemisphere.

We planned a live, online coverage of this fly-by, sharing it with the community. It was a great success: during the event, we captured many images, showing also the large brightness variations of light of the asteroid, around 1.5 magnitudes, suggesting a very elongated shape. Data will be further analyzed to get an estimate of the rotational period.

Meanwhile, above is an image coming from a single 60-seconds exposure, remotely collected with the  PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope Project. The telescope tracked the apparent, fast (200″/minute) rate of the asteroid: so, 2014 SC324 is visible as a sharp and bright dot of light in the center, while stars are trailing. At the imaging time, the object was at about 580.000 km from the Earth, on its way back.

Below is the podcast of the live event.

Back to “Solar System” page



Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, AMAZING image of potentially hazardous asteroid 2004 BL86 taken taken by the Virtual Telescope!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

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