Near-Earth Asteroid 2015 LF extremely close encounter: a stunning image (08 June 2015)
On 8 June 2015, at 23:49 UT, the 15 meters large near-Earth asteroid 2015 LF made an extremely close, but safe, encounter with our home planet, coming within 200.000 km. At Virtual Telescope we planned a live, online observing session to show it the the world, but weather was against us.
Sometime after the event was cancelled, the clouds moved away and we had only two minutes, literally, to try imaging this very fast moving rock a few hours before its minimum distance from the Earth, thanks to the advanced capabilities of the Virtual Telescope.
The image above is a single 120-seconds exposure, remotely taken with PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope. The robotic mount tracked the VERY fast (550″/minute) apparent motion of the asteroid, so stars are trailing, while the asteroid is perfectly tracked (the minor planet is the little sharp dot in the center). At the imaging time, the object was at about mag. 14.5 and at about 270.000 km from our planet. This is, once again, a super result, showing the amazing capabilities of the Virtual Telescope in tracking extremely demanding asteroids.
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