Near-Earth asteroid 2017 FU102 very close encounter: an image (2 Apr. 2017)
The near-Earth asteroid 2017 FU102 was discovered by the Mt. Lemmon Survey in Arizona (USA) on 29 March 2017. Today it will have a very close, but safe encounter with the Earth (about 230.000 km, 0.6 times the mean distance of the Moon).
At Virtual Telescope Project we captured 2017 FU102 while it was safely approaching us. For this, we remotely used a telescope in Arizona, made available to the Virtual Telescope by Tenagra Observatories, Ltd. Above is an image coming from the average of 60-seconds exposure, unfiltered, taken with the 16″-f/3.75 Tenagra III (“Pearl”) unit. The robotic mount tracked the fast apparent motion (120″/minute) of the asteroid, so stars are trailing. The asteroid is perfectly tracked: it is the sharp dot in the center. On 02 Apr. 2017. at 20:18 UT, this ~10 meters large rock will reach its minimum distance from us of 230.000 km, that is a bit more than half of the mean distance of the Moon.
The observatory is placed at 1300 meters above the sea level, in the Sonoran desert, providing one of the best skies in the world. This image was taken as part of a cooperation between the Virtual Telescope Project and Tenagra Observatories, Ltd., which will be announced soon.
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