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.

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