Posts Tagged ‘2014 DX110’
It is hard to comment the recent asteroid 2014 DX110 online event, after the unprecedented, huge success of our live coverage. Well, we are honestly used to a large participation, but this time numbers were… astronomical.
Since Sept. 2012, when we started this new, (hopefully) smarter website, we hosted many live feeds, sharing in real-time things happening out there, in the sky. But you know this, likely you were on-board, in our spaceship.
When we noticed that 2014 DX110 was just discovered, we immediately announced a live coverage of its close approach, provided it was going to be perfectly visible from Italy, at the time of minimum distance. The news of our event started traveling around the globe, thanks to many important websites and press agencies, becoming viral.
Soon, it was clear that a vast number of viewers was ready to jump into our website for the live feed and, at the scheduled time, that really happened. At some point, more than a few ten thousands of individuals were at the same time on our page and the server crashed! This happened a few times that evening, we apologize, but as you may know, that volume of visitors is critical for any server. While this was a problem, it was an happy problem, coming from a wide interest in the topic.
Just to give you some numbers, the day of the 2014 DX110 close approach (5 Mar.) we hosted a total of 281.869 viewers, willing to learn more and see that brushing rock; the following day, while the other asteroid 2014 EC was having an even closer approach, we recorded 141.630 individuals: a total of more than 420.000 curious visitors in two days.
Clouds were a issue on both nights, but 2014 DX110 showed for ten minutes or so, making people happy!
While, as the end user, you just see a video playing, an image showing the telescope console and live images from the imaging device, there is an amazing technology making this possible. Consider such a close approach as the one of 2014 DX110: the asteroid was moving with an apparent rate of about 500 arcseconds per minute, in 3 minutes almost covering the angular size of the full Moon. Furthermore, that rate was changing very rapidly, making things possibly much complex.
But our robotic system handled this very easily… and perfectly. The Paramount ME robotic mount made the difference, as it did in every case (you may remember the record event of asteroid 2012 DA14). But exceptional sentences need exceptional proofs, so look at the image at the beginning of this post.
The picture above shows asteroid 2014 DX110 perfectly tracked, while it was at about 350.000 km from us, closer than the Moon and moving at 500″/minute. The exposure time was of 2 minutes and in that time the stars left trails 0.3 degrees long (!). Let me say this: such a result and performance make us proud.
Above all, I wish to thank those who joined and, particularly, those who have sent a donation, supporting the otherwise unfunded Virtual Telescope: I apologize for the technical problems you might have had, but as I said the large number of participants was the (happy) reason for that. I also acknowledge our technological sponsors.
What’s next? Who knows, the sky will say!
The Virtual telescope Project
Above is a movie showing the 30-meters large near-Earth asteroid 2014 DX110 just around the time of its minimum distance from the Earth (about 350.000 km).
102 images were taken back to back, each exposed for 3 seconds, remotely using the Planewave 17 robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope. The Paramount ME robotic mount was tracking the apparent motion of the target, providing an exceptional performance and effect, as usual.
Asteroid shows brightness variations, as it is fast rotating in a few minutes, so reflecting a variable light from the Sun. Around there are some hot pixels, too, they are just due to the imaging camera electronics.
At the imaging time, this rock was apparently moving with a rate of 515″/minute. Images were taken as part of the live session shared online.
Above is a movie showing the near-Earth asteroid 2014 DX110 while approaching our planet.
101 images were taken back to back, each exposed for 20 seconds, remotely using the Planewave 17 robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope. The Paramount ME robotic mount was tracking the apparent motion of the target, providing an exceptional performance and effect, as usual.
At the imaging time, this 30 meters large asteroid was at 1.3 millions of km from us and apparently moving with a rate of 40″/minute.
The chart above shows the path in the sky of 2014 DX110 around the minimum distance (5 Mar., 21:00 UT). The position is given every 20 minutes and was specifically calculated for the Virtual Telescope observing site in Central Italy. Plot made with TheSkyX Pro by Software Bisque.
While waiting for it to reach the minimum distance tomorrow, at Virtual Telescope we imaged the Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 DX110 while it was showing among the clouds. After a relatively short exposure, we wanted to have a longer one, showing very well its fast motion.
Above is a 240 seconds exposure, remotely taken with the Planewave 17 robotic unit. The Paramount ME mount was tracking the apparent motion of the minor planet, so stares left a trail, while the asteroid looks as a point of light.
At the imaging time, this ~30 meters rock was at about 1.3 millions of km from the Earth. It is clear that the mount handled this fast mover very well.