Asteroid (2999) Dante: an image to start celebrating the Poet, 700 years after his death – 02 Feb. 2021

This year, Italy and the world will celebrate one of the greatest poets ever: Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321). He wrote the “Divina Commedia” (“Divine Comedy”), one of the greatest work of world literature. Tonight we imaged the asteroid named after him.

Asteroid (2999) Dante - 02 Feb. 2021.

Asteroid (2999) Dante – 02 Feb. 2021.

The image above comes from a total of 16 minutes of integration, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. The telescope tracked the apparent motion of the asteroid, this is why stars show as trails, while the asteroid looks like a sharp dot of light in the center of the image, marked by an arrow.

Taking this image was not easy. Asteroid “Dante” is currently hard to see, as it sets soon after the Sun, so it is already very low above the western horizon once the sky is dark enough for images to be taken. But I succeeded, thanks to the power of our robotic telescope and a very clear sky (after weeks of poor weather).

Asteroid “Dante” was discovered exactly 40 years ago (6 Feb. 1981) by Norman G. Thomas, Lowell Observatory, who died in 2020. We will tell more about the discovery in a future post.

We are eagerly working to put together a specific program to celebrate Dante Alighieri, the father of our Italian language and with a strong interest in astronomy and cosmology (as we can see from his operas), so stay tuned.

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