Near-Earth asteroid 2015 HQ11 close to its minimum distance: an image (24 Apr. 2015)

Near-Earth asteroid 2015 HQ11: 24 April 2015

Near-Earth asteroid 2015 HQ11: 24 April 2015

These days we saw a number of small asteroids coming very close to us: near-Earth asteroid 2015 HQ11 was discovered on 23. Apr. 2015 and officially announced the day after. This 15-meters large minor planet reached a minimum distance of 1.3 lunar distances (500.000 km) from the Earth on 25 April 2015 at 06:19 UT.

The image above is a single 150-seconds exposures, remotely taken with PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit  part of the Virtual Telescope. The robotic mount tracked the fast (197″/minute!) apparent motion of the asteroid, so stars are trailing, while the asteroid is perfectly tracked (the asteroid is the little dot in the center, marked with two white lines). The object was very faint, at about mag. 18.5, and moving so fast that without the advanced tracking capability of of our robotic system it was impossible to capture! It was one of the most extreme targets we ever grabbed.

Below is the orbit of the asteroid, plotted with TheSkyX (Software Bisque)

Near-Earth asteroid 2015 HQ11: orbit

Near-Earth asteroid 2015 HQ11: orbit

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