Near-Earth Asteroid 2010 WC9 very close encounter: an image (15 May 2018)
Later today, the near-Earth asteroid 2010 WC9 will reach its minimum distance from the Earth, safely coming as close as 200.000 km from us: that is 0.5 lunar distances. Here it is an image we have just captured, but for the next hours, you can see it from your backyard, with your small telescopes.
The image above comes a single, 60-seconds exposure, remotely taken with the 16″-f/3.75 Tenagra III (“Pearl”) robotic unit in Arizona, available as part of the partnership between the Virtual Telescope Project (Italy) and Tenagra Observatories (Arizona, USA). This is our second observation covering this object, after our previous session a few days ago from Italy.
The telescope tracked the apparent motion of the asteroid (which was of 60″/minute at the imaging time), so stars leave long trails, while the asteroid looks like a bright, sharp dot of light in the very center of the image. While we captured it, asteroid 2010 WC9 was at about 730.000 km from us and it was on its way approaching the Earth.
This ~90 meters large asteroid will reach its minimum distance (about 200.000 km) from us on 15 May 2018, at 22:05 UTC. Just to be clear, there are NO risks at all for our planet.
For the next hours, 2010 WC9 will be visible with small telescopes (4-6 inches large) telescopes from the Southern hemisphere: it will show its apparent motion in real-time!
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